Sports in Detroit

Sports in Detroit

Detroit, Michigan is home to four professional American sports teams. It is a important sports center as one of twelve cities in the United States to have teams from the four major North American sports.

All but one of the area's teams compete within the city of Detroit. There are three active major sports venues within the city: 41,782-seat Comerica Park (home of the baseball team Detroit Tigers), 65,000-seat Ford Field (home of the football team Detroit Lions), and 20,066-seat Joe Louis Arena (home of the ice hockey team Detroit Red Wings). Detroit is known for its avid hockey fans. Interest in the sport has given the city the moniker of "Hockeytown". In 2008, the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park reported 3.2 million visitors with a 98.6 percent attendance rate.[1]

The area's other major venue is The Palace of Auburn Hills, in the suburban community of Auburn Hills. This 22,076-seat arena is home to the Detroit Pistons of the NBA. It was also home to the WNBA's Detroit Shock from the team's formation in 1998 until its move to Tulsa, Oklahoma after the 2009 season.

In college sports, the University of Detroit Mercy has a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I program, and Wayne State University has both NCAA Division I and II programs. The NCAA football Motor City Bowl is held at Ford Field each December. In addition, the sports teams of the University of Michigan are located in Ann Arbor, within an hour's drive of much of the Detroit metropolitan area.



Detroit has bid to host Summer Olympic Games more often than any other city which has not yet hosted, participating in International Olympic Committee elections for the 1944 (placing 3rd, behind bid winner London), 1952 (5th place), 1956 (4th place), 1960 (3rd place), 1964 (2nd place), 1968 (2nd place) and 1972 (4th place) Games.

In 1967, Detroit was selected as one of the cities to adopt a European professional soccer club in a bid to promote the game Stateside. The event was planned to coincide with Europe's off/close season when the teams would have otherwise been dormant for the summer. Detroit was represented by the Northern Irish team Glentoran, playing as the Detroit Cougars.

Interior of Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit was given the name "City of Champions" in the 1930s, for a series of successes both in individual and in team sport. Gar Wood (a native Detroiter) won the Harmsworth Trophy for unlimited powerboat racing on the Detroit River in 1931. In the following year, Eddie "the Midnight Express" Tolan, a black sprinter who had graduated from Detroit's Cass Technical High School in 1927, won the 100- and 200-meter races and two gold medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics. Boxer Joe Louis, who came to Detroit when he was 12 years old and started his professional career in the city, won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1937. The Detroit Lions won the National Football League championship in 1935. The Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant in 1934 and again in 1935, subsequently bagging the World Series in 1935, defeating the Chicago Cubs. The Detroit Red Wings won the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup in 1936 & 1937.[2][3]

Ford Field hosted the Final Four of the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

Oakland Hills Country Club, located in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, has hosted numerous high-profile golf events. It has hosted the U.S. Open six times, most recently in 1996; the PGA Championship three times, most recently in 2008; the U.S. Senior Open in 1981 and 1991; the U.S. Amateur in 2002; and the Ryder Cup in 2004.

Looking towards Ford Field two nights before Super Bowl XL.

On July 12, 2005, Comerica Park hosted 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and Ford Field hosted Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. On December 13, 2003, the largest verified crowd in basketball history (78,129) packed Ford Field to watch the University of Kentucky defeat Michigan State University, 79-74.[4] Comerica Park hosted games 1 and 2 of the 2006 World Series.

Ford Field held WrestleMania 23 in Ford Field on April 1, 2007. The Palace of Auburn Hills held NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament Finals on March 15–17, 2007. The Palace also held NBA Finals games 3, 4 and 5 in both 2004 and 2005, and also hosted all but two of the Shock's WNBA Finals home games in their four Finals appearances (championships in 2003, 2006, and 2008, plus a losing appearance in 2007). The two exceptions were the title-clinching victories in 2006 and 2008, which both took place elsewhere due to scheduling conflicts—Joe Louis Arena in 2006 and the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti in 2008.

In 2007, Detroit hosted World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s WrestleMania 23 which attracted 80,103 fans to Ford Field; the event marking the twentieth anniversary of WrestleMania III which drew a reported 93,173 to the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan in 1987. WWE has also held three of the annual Survivor Series events in Detroit with the 1991, 1999, and 2005 pay-per-views emanating from Joe Louis Arena, as well as Vengeance 2002. Detroit also hosted the returning March 18, 2006 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event on March 18, 2006 and numerous episodes of the weekly Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown telecasts since 1994 and 1999, respectively.


Annual Gold Cup Polo tournament - held at Word of Faith in Southfield.
Comerica Park 2007
Ford Field adjacent to Comerica Park.

Since 1904, the city has been home to the American Power Boat Association Gold Cup unlimited hydroplane boat race, held annually on the Detroit River near Belle Isle.[5]

The Detroit Marathon is also organized annually in the city, usually held in October.

Detroit is home to the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. The race took place on the streets of downtown Detroit from 1982 until 1988, and then from 1989 (when the sanction moved from Formula One to IndyCars) at Belle Isle until now. The race was not held from 2002−2006.

The Professional Bowlers Association Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour holds the Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes in the suburb of Taylor.

The suburb of Southfield hosts the annual Gold Cup Polo tournament at Word of Faith International Christian Center, formerly known as Duns Scotus College.[6]

The city of Detroit is scheduled to host the following events:

  • NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, Frozen Four, Ford Field, April 8/10, 2010
  • 2010 will mark the 75th anniversary of the year that the Tigers, Lions, and RedWings all won their league championships for the first time. It is not known at this time if there will be an specific celebrations.
  • April 18, 2011, will mark the 75th anniversary of Champions Day in Michigan.[7]




Club League Venue Established Championships
Detroit Lions NFL Football Ford Field 1930 4 (NFL), 0 (Super Bowl)
Detroit Pistons NBA Basketball The Palace of Auburn Hills 1941 3
Detroit Red Wings NHL Hockey Joe Louis Arena 1926 11
Detroit Tigers MLB Baseball Comerica Park 1894 4


Club League Venue Established Ended Fate of team Championships in Detroit
Detroit Lightning MISL Cobo Arena 1979 1980 Team Folded 0
Detroit Drive AFL Arena Football Joe Louis Arena 1988 1993 Team Folded 4
Detroit Turbos MILL Indoor Lacrosse Joe Louis Arena 1989 1994 Team folded 1
Detroit Rockers NPSL Indoor Soccer Joe Louis Arena/Compuware Arena/The Palace of Auburn Hills 1990 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Safari CISL Indoor Soccer The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 1997 Team folded 0
Detroit Vipers IHL Hockey The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Fury AFL Arena Football The Palace of Auburn Hills 2001 2004 Team folded 0
Detroit Ignition MISL/XSL Indoor Soccer Compuware Arena 2006 2009 League folded 1
Detroit Express NASL Soccer Pontiac Silverdome 1978 1980 Team Folded 0
Detroit Shock WNBA Basketball The Palace of Auburn Hills 1998 2009 Tulsa Shock 3


Club Sport League Venue Location
various Auto racing NASCAR, IRL, ARCA Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn
Detroit Indy Grand Prix Auto racing IRL Belle Isle Park Detroit
Gold Cup Hydroplane racing APBA Detroit River Detroit


Club Sport League Venue Location
Detroit Titans various NCAA (Horizon League) various, including Calihan Hall Detroit
Eastern Michigan Eagles various NCAA (Mid-American Conference) various, including Rynearson Stadium and EMU Convocation Center Ypsilanti
Michigan Wolverines various NCAA (Big Ten Conference, Central Collegiate Hockey Association) various, including Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena Ann Arbor
Oakland Golden Grizzlies various NCAA (The Summit League) various, including Athletics Center O'Rena Rochester
Wayne State Warriors various NCAA (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) various Detroit


Club Sport League Venue Location
Detroit Derby Girls Roller Derby WFTDA Masonic Temple Detroit
Detroit Tradesmen Rugby Club Rugby Union USA Rugby Glenn W. Levey Middle School Detroit
Detroit rugby league team Rugby league AMNRL N/A Detroit

See also


  1. ^ MLB Attendance Report - 2008.ESPN. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  2. ^ Detroit News.
  3. ^ Visit Detroit
  4. ^ History.
  5. ^ History. The Detroit APBA Gold Cup
  6. ^ Southfield Gold Cup Polo. (July 21, 2000). PRNewswire. Retrieved on January 19, 2008.
  7. ^ Bring Back Champions Day Campaign

Further reading

  • Gavrilovich, Peter and Bill McGraw (2000). The Detroit Almanac. Detroit Free Press. ISBN 0-937247-34-0. 
  • Gavrilovich, Peter and Bill McGraw (2006). The Detroit Almanac, 2nd edition. Detroit Free Press. ISBN 9780937247488. 

External links

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