September 13 - No Mo-town
Detroit is the worst city in the United States.
If you are from there and are actually proud of it, I'm sorry. Not because I offended you, but because
you are from there.
When I get assigned a game a football game in Detroit, I cringe. It used to be because we had to
shlep all the way to Pontiac, about 40 minutes north of downtown and about an hour from the airport.
Now, though, the new stadium is downtown, right next to the baseball stadium. And while fans may
love the stadium once inside, the rest of the package that it comes with is a nightmare. And since I
can only view it in this way, and it was bad all around at that level, I can only imagine what it is going to
be like in February when they attempt to have a Super Bowl there. I normally reserve my stadium
reviews to the personal side of the site (you can find the first few I've done right here), but there is way
too much to talk about with this trip to keep it over there.
The New Detroit Football Stadium (I will not use its corporate name - if
there is a problem with that, then go and get the company it is named
after to pay me) is a beautiful structure. I want to stress that. For fans, this
is a great place to watch a game, even if it does feel like you are sitting in
an airplane hangar. The concourses look beautiful and the suites level,
where the TV booth is located, is gorgeous. But that is about the only
highlight I found there.
Let's start with the parking situation. Unless you are one of the two cars allowed to part near the TV
trucks (and on this trip, we were not one of the lucky two), get the walking shoes out, because you are
parking in Kalamazoo. No exaggeration, it is a ten minute walk from the designated media lot to the
stadium. We were there on an 85 degree September day, so it was fine. But on February 5, many,
many media members will be cursing the NFL for having the game there. I hear there is a shuttle to
the lot - I never saw it, though.
Once you walk the marathon, if you are on the TV crew, it is a very interesting trip up to the booth. The
path consists of a walk through serviceways and kitchens and service elevators. I thought I was going
to be greeted with a front row table and Henny Youngman on the stage when we were done walking. I
hear rumors that they forgot to build a TV booth when they built the stadium, so they converted a suite
into the booth. All indications are that is the case (of course, there are a handful of stadiums in which
this is the case). It is nowhere near the press box - for starters it is on the 3rd floor while the press
box is on the 7th. And to get there, it is back to the service elevators. Pleasant, no?
The press box itself is high. Very high. Maybe not the highest in the NFL, but when the Lions opt to
wear their hideous black jerseys with blue numbers, there is no chance of figuring out certain players
from that height. If I had trouble telling the difference between 24 and 34 from where I was, I'm very
happy I didn't have to do it from the top of the building. I truly felt sorry for the radio broadcasters
The food looked nice (I opted to eat at the hotel, although since we were staying at the Rtiz - more on
the hotel situation later - I ended up with the $25 burger and small soda), but I was looking for a
cookie or something to much on and couldn't find a single dessert. Most people would tell me that
isn't the worst thing for my ever-expanding waistline and there are more important things in the world
to complain about, but I was craving something sweet and couldn't find anything on an NFL press box
buffet. Not good. And apparently, when our runner went to get our announcers (Kenny Albert and Brian
Baldinger) a couple waters from there, they wouldn't let him leave the press box with them - they
ended up having to be purchased at a concession stand instead. Outside of the players, there are
two people in the stadium that need a fresh supply of water - the two network TV announcers. I guess
they don't realize that in Detroit.
Have you figured out my feelings about this city yet?
Now, let's discuss hotels. Yes, we stayed at the Ritz. FOX takes good care of us in that respect. But
there are only a handful of decent hotels in Detroit, with none of them being located downtown (and
after having been there, I can understand why there is nothing downtown). I once stayed downtown for
a week, when I worked the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals for the NHL. My experience at the Crowne Plaza
Ponchartrain? A week of 95 degree temperatures, a hotel with blown out air conditioning and no
options outside of the hotel since downtown Detroit resembles a war
zone. How in the world are they going to host a Super Bowl in this town?
The closest decent hotel is at least 20 minutes away in Dearborn, which
is where the Ritz and some other nice hotels are. Or, you can drive a half
hour north to Troy and some of the places there (and, at the same time,
see the single greatest freeway exit in the United States...Exit 69, Big
Beaver Road and no, I'm not making that up as you can see in the picture
on the right).
So, what exactly is there to like about Detroit? Why do people live there? You can go across the border
into Windsor, Ontario and get some good beer and take advantage of the exchange rate. What else?
Hmmm. I'm still thinking. The music is good, but I can always buy the CDs here in New York. But
music and a trip to the Canadian ballet really aren't enough for me to understand why Detroit is
hosting a Super Bowl. And if it snows, well, flakes aren't going to be the only things flying that
If you thought the discontent that came out of Jacksonville last year was bad, just wait until this one.
Its gonna be a doozy.
Of course, if they call me to work it, I'll be there.