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What Playing in a World Series Means for Detroit

by Lisa Diggs

Baseball fans all over the state are buzzing about the Detroit Tigers returning to the World Series, but baseball fan or not, anyone who loves Detroit has reason to be excited. Hosting a World Series means an unplanned economic boost, discovery of local products by potential new customers, and opportunities for national media exposure about the positive changes in the city.

According to the Detroit Free Press sources estimate an economic surge of at least $26 to $28.5 million if Detroit plays host to three of the championship games. That is in addition to the boost playoff games have already meant to businesses downtown, and around the region, as fans gathered together to watch the excitement over food and drink. 

Even a playoff rain delay on Wednesday, October 18th, while disappointing to many fans, likely increased the positive economic impact of Tiger baseball on the downtown. More than 42,000 ticketed fans, and countless others, came down to the ballpark and neighboring bars and restaurants for a game that did not happen. The Tigers with a 3-0 lead in the series could have ended the battle with the Yankees that night, but rain automatically forced a game to be scheduled for the following day, driving fans back to Detroit again to park, eat, drink, and stay in local hotels.

Now that the Tigers are officially competing in the World Series, journalists and baseball enthusiasts from around the country will descend upon the city, with an opportunity to spend money and to discover local products and businesses.

Outside the ballpark nearby establishments like Cheli’s, Elwood, and Hockeytown Café were predictably filled to the brim with patrons during the playoffs. Even more exciting though is that restaurants in Corktown, Greektown, and Midtown were also full, either with fans who planned to take a shuttle to the game, or patrons who wanted to be in Detroit to experience the thrill of victory. All of which will likely increase with the start of the World Series.

Inside the ballpark, visitors have the opportunity to experience more than just spectacular baseball. Concession stands and suites feature a wide variety of local foods and beverages including Winter’s Sausage, Little Caesars Pizza, Hudsonville Ice Cream, and more.  There is even a bar dedicated to serving up Michigan craft beers, a growing statewide industry.

Baseball is giving Detroit a rare opportunity to be on the nation’s stage with positive news, and there is plenty of it. This kind of attention leads to websites with headlines like "Surprising Road Trip: Detroit" and New York Times articles about the upswing in the city. Journalists who covered the World Series in 2006 will find many exciting new developments in the city. 

By 2006 a new Cass Tech High School had been built nearby, but the vision of it was obscured by the old, dilapidated building that was still there. Today that building is gone and replaced with lush, green grass.

Across from the stadium, the old Madison Theater sat empty last time around, a visible sign of the city’s struggles. It’s now home to Angelina Italian Bistro and Chez Zara. Under the guidance of new owner, Dan Gilbert, the renamed M@dison Building is also a hub for Detroit’s booming technology industry. It houses Detroit Venture Partners, Skidmore Studio, Detroit Labs, and even a Twitter office. The building was recently named one of the World’s Coolest Offices by INC Magazine.

New additions to the city since the last World Series hosted in Detroit also include the revitalized Book Cadillac building. Once abandoned, it is now home to the Westin Hotel, several residences, and tantalizing restaurants including Michael Symon’s Roast.

While there is much work yet to be done, positive stories abound now in a city that is being rebuilt on a spirit of entrepreneurism, collaboration, and a restoration of simpler times. Even urban gardens like Lafayette Greens can be found where broken buildings once stood.

There’s a lot more to be excited about in Detroit than baseball, and yet it’s really spectacular that the success of our team can help expose more people to the success of our community.

If all that isn’t reason enough to love the Detroit Tigers and the World Series competition they are bringing back, then how about the political distraction? At a time when ideologies and proposals are pitting neighbor against neighbor, how fortunate is our city to have something fun and unifying upon which we can focus? Go Tigers!


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