Detroit kicks off Final Four, but more hotel rooms are essential, boosters say


Bigger events are on their way to Detroit — as long as more hotels continue to materialize, according to the region’s leading tourism promoter.

A Friday morning panel discussion at the Detroit Homecoming event sought to highlight some of the positive national headlines about Detroit, something still relatively new after years of negative stereotyping.

Senior executives from some of Detroit’s major arts and culture organizations, sports entities and the city’s most notable businessman scion agreed that the rich cultural history and overall “cool factor” come from increasingly felt to a wider audience.

But more infrastructure is needed, according to Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit, the region’s nonprofit tourism and convention bureau.

“If we can get a few more hotel rooms, I think we can win, because that’s really the challenge for us,” Molinari said Friday when asked if Detroit would get the college basketball tournament. NCAA Final Four. In the years to come.

Relief is on the way.

Crain’s reported Thursday that a long-planned 290-room hotel near Little Caesar’s Arena has begun the regulatory process to move forward.

And while more hotels are on the way, questions remain about whether there will be enough for the NFL Draft, to be held in Detroit in 2024.

Still, Molinari said the city is a “finalist” for the Final Four, a sort of holy grail for tourism boosters, and there’s a team that will be heading to Houston in the coming weeks to showcase Detroit at the event.

The planned hotel near LCA is a “step in the right direction,” Molinari said, “but we need a lot more.”

Beyond big-budget sporting events, panelists highlighted the upcoming exhibition of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh coming to the Detroit Institute of Arts – which 100 years ago became the first museum in the United States to purchase a work of the painter – later this year as helping to raise awareness of the region.

Detroit City Football Club CEO Sean Mann joined Molinari on the panel to discuss the city’s growing national spotlight; Yuval Sharon, artistic director of the Detroit Opera; Salvador Salort-Pons, administrator, president and chief executive officer of the DIA; and Grant Gilbert, the 24-year-old son of mortgage billionaire and real estate magnate Dan Gilbert.

Grant Gilbert launches Audetorium, described as “a multimedia company that offers to tell stories about people, cultures and times through various mediums”.


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