April in the D: Not Just a Song

Ryan Larimore@@LarimoreonSprtsContributor IApril 30, 2009

Sports have always played an important role in Detroit. With the Economy and Auto-Industry in shambles, Detroiters look to their sports teams for any bit of good news. Pro and College sports provide an escape from the heartbreak, and brings friends and family together.
Detroit has a pro sports team for all of the four major sports (football, hockey, basketball, and baseball) and two major college teams (University of Michigan and Michigan State.). Sports in Detroit boost the economy and the spirits of its citizens.
This year April in the D got an early start to the annual spring sports awakening with the Michigan State Spartans making it to the Final Four in Detroit. The city anticipated 30-50 Million dollars in revenue in the time span of a little over three days.
Thursday, Apr. 2, over 25,000 fans showed up to watch the Spartans practice, and the games themselves brought 73,000 to Ford field to watch the Spartans beat number one seed UConn on the way to a final four loss to North Carolina.
Even without winning the presence of the Spartans in the Final Four made the event extra special to Detroit, and with such local flare, bars were packed downtown and suddenly a majority of metro Detroit was singing the Spartans fight song.
Filling what could have been a lull in the city was Jay Leno.
April in the D is traditionally a sports slogan, but another uplifting event visited Detroit this year in the already packed month. Apr. 7 and 8 brought funny man Jay Leno into town to do two free shows, hailed as “Jay’s Comedy Stimulus Plan.”
According to the Huffington Post, over 30,000 tickets were doled out for two shows. The show was free, and helped distract the community from the downward spiraling economy, and bickering in Detroit city counsel. Refreshments were taken care of by Dominos and Pepsi, and the show ended with chants of “Thank You, Jay” by the thankful crowd.
Following Jay Leno was a day steep in tradition in the community. Opening Day is a community holiday for metro-Detroiters and thousands skip work and head downtown to celebrate the incoming season of America’s past time.
“I just like that they get to come into a new season with a fresh start” says Jake Nabozny, a student at Lawrence Tech, and Detroit Tiger fan “It brings a lot of fans back to watch games. It gives the city more patronage and it also makes it look a lot more lively”
According to the Anderson Economic opening day brings an estimated $4.74 Million to the metro Detroit area and over the span of an entire season the Tigers are estimated to bring $117 million to the region.
The Detroit Red Wings begin the playoffs in April, and fans begin to file downtown to watch the team that has produced championships most frequently. At the end of the playoffs, if the Wings win, over one-million Detroiters file downtown for the celebration, which brings millions of dollars in revenue to the city.
The Red Wings have won four out of the last 11 years, and have been to the play-offs in every season since 1990.
The Detroit Lions even feed into the optimism in April. Every year the NFL draft is held in late April and is the one time of year Lions fans feel truly hopeful. Fans speculate off-season moves, and talk about their hopes for the season. Season ticket holders pack Ford Field on Draft day, for draft day parties and again, help bring some revenue to the city of Detroit.
Detroiters count on their sports teams for far more than entertainment; Teams in the Detroit area reflect the attitude and blue collar mentality that is synonymous with the city. Much like its football team, the city has been beaten up, and counted out. The resilience of the city has become visible by their sports team.
In 2004 the Detroit Pistons adopted the Montra “Going to work”, because the team had taken on its city’s personality. Fans embrace hard working players like Steve Yzerman and Joe Dumars.
Their humbleness and work ethic made them popular in the city, Detroit wants athletes who go out and do their job, and work as hard as they can to earn their pay. The city doesn’t take kindly to flashy show boats that are in it for the money.
In some other cities, sports are just entertainment, a way to pass the time. Other cities don’t rely on sports to bring in tourists, and revenue. Other cities couldn’t care less when their teams win or loose.
April in the D is more than just a catchy song brought to you by Fox Sports Detroit. The calendar turns to April and Detroit is whipped into frenzy over its sports teams, and the other uplifting events that are going on around the metro Detroit area.
Fans hunker down in their favorite bars to root on their Red Wings; they make their way downtown to absorb the atmosphere and community that is opening day. Detroit for a brief time in the spring is able to root for something obtainable; the city can feel alive, when the rest of the country tells them that their city is dying.
This must be, April in the D.