Tom Lewand, who was named team president December 29, 2008, oversees the team’s day-to-day operations and reports to Mr. Ford on all business, organizational and NFL matters. Now in his 19th season with the Detroit Lions, fifth as president, he guides the overall direction of the franchise.
Tom Lewand, who was named team president December 29, 2008, oversees the team’s day-to-day operations and reports to Mrs. Ford on all business, organizational and NFL matters. Now in his 20th season with the Detroit Lions, sixth as president, he continues to guide the overall direction of the franchise.
Lewand’s fundamental principle is to consistently present the Lions as a first-class organization with a clear sense of mission and direction.
Among his responsibilities, Lewand is the chief player contract negotiator and he oversees all day-to-day business operations of both the Detroit Lions and Ford Field entities. This includes the management of finance, football administration, player development, security, equipment operations, medical staff, ticketing, sponsorship and marketing, communications, broadcasting, digital media, human resources, Ford Field operations and administration, acquisition of events and the development of Ford Field’s lease space in the stadium’s progression as a multi-use facility.
Lewand has held a myriad of positions and responsibilities during his tenure with the Lions. Prior to his current role, he was the club’s executive vice president and chief operating officer from 2003-08.
On a League-wide level, Lewand contributes to several key business and labor initiatives. He serves on the Super Bowl Advisory Committee and the NFL Management Council’s Club Executives Committee. Lewand has also previously served on the Committee on Revenue Sharing Qualifiers and Special Committee on League Economics. Lewand represents the organization for all League-level business matters.
Lewand’s leadership positions the entire Lions’ organization, including Ford Field operations, to positively impact the Lions’ drive for a Super Bowl title. For Lewand, everything from football transactions to Ford Field events influences the team’s ability to compete and win.
In January 2014, Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew undertook a search for a new head coach. They sought a leader who could elevate the franchise to the next level and build a consistently-winning team to achieve the directive set forth by the Ford Family.
With that focus, the team hired Jim Caldwell to fulfill this vision. Caldwell’s impressive coaching career includes leading the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl XLIV as the club’s head coach and winning two Super Bowls as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator while with Indianapolis (2006) and Baltimore (2012).
During his tenure with the Lions, Lewand has negotiated player contracts totaling more than $1.5 billion.
Since 2009, Lewand has executed some of the NFL’s more extensive and complex contract negotiations by re-signing All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson in 2012 to the highest contract ever signed by a receiver in League history, inking QB Matthew Stafford to his rookie contract in 2009 and his extension in 2013, and signing DT Ndamukong Suh to his rookie contract.
Johnson was the biggest off-season move for the Lions in 2012 as Lewand negotiated a new eight-year contract that has him signed with the Lions through 2019. Stafford’s rookie contract occurred within just a few hours of the 2009 NFL Draft, allowing the team to sign the first overall pick prior to the draft. In 2013, Lewand led the negotiations with Stafford to extend the franchise quarterback’s contract through 2017.
Johnson, Stafford and Suh represent three of the core of players who will help continue to lead the Lions’ progress on the field.
Lewand’s additional contract highlights include: the Lions’ last 22 first-round draft choices, Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders’ last NFL contract, the contracts of several Pro Bowl players and recent key free agent acquisitions.
BUILDING THE LIONS BRAND
On the business side, Lewand constantly seeks opportunities to evolve and grow the team’s operations that, in turn, will influence the team’s ability to win on the field. Lewand drives to combine a championship team with unique fan engagement and in-stadium experiences.
One significant area of improvement the past four seasons has been the growth in season ticket holders and ticket sales.
The Lions have sold out their last 29 regular season home games. The introduction of numerous fan-friendly and family-oriented ticket options has greatly improved attendance at all Lions games.
When the Lions defeated the Chicago Bears 24-13 on October 1, 2011 during its first Monday Night Football appearance since 2001, the team claimed victory in front of a Ford Field record crowd (67,891) for a Lions home game.
In fact, the top 17 largest crowds to see a Lions’ game at Ford Field have all occurred since 2011.
The Lions have set new season attendance records for Lions games at Ford Field in each of the past three years as the club has attracted over 500, 000 fans during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Last year marked a record for the club in total home attendance when it attracted 510,369 fans, surpassing the previous two seasons of 510,158 in 2012 and 509,940 in 2011.
In 2010, attendance to Lions games increased 14-percent. It was the largest increase by any NFC team, and Detroit was one of only two teams in the NFL to experience a double-digit increase in ticket sales.
Lewand not only wants the team to provide the best possible product on the field for the fans, but he also is determined to make the experience affordable and one of the most valuable investments for Lions fans. For season ticket holders, the team offers additional unique interactive opportunities, such as town hall meetings, conference calls, meet-and-greets with players and special training camp access among others to complement their purchase of season tickets.
Since 2009, the Lions have achieved the NFL’s largest growth in both total season ticket holders and percentage of Club Seats sold.
The excitement and interest over the Lions has caught the attention of the NFL’s television partners to feature the team in their marquee national broadcast timeslots. In the past three seasons, Detroit has played on national television 10 times, including four on MNF, three on Sunday Night Football and three on Thanksgiving. The Lions’ 10 nationally televised games mark just the fifth time in the past 44 seasons that the team has appeared on national television at least 10 times during a three-year span. In 2012, the Lions played five nationally televised games, including four in prime time, for only the second time since 1970.
In 2014, the Lions are slated for three nationally-televised games, including the season opener vs. the New York Giants on MNF. This season marks the first time the Lions will host a MNF game in four-straight seasons since 1981-84, and it will be the team’s first prime time season opening-game since 1991 and the first at home since 1971.
Additionally, the Lions will play in the NFL’s first-ever 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff when the Lions face the Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London, England that will air across the country on FOX as part of the NFL’s International Series.
Seeking opportunities to reach and communicate with more fans, Lewand emphasizes the importance of growing fan interaction through digital media. In the past year, the team engaged with approximately 8.5 million combined unique users on Detroitlions.com, various social mediums and the Lions’ mobile app platform.
Establishing the Lions as a great partner in the community remains a top priority for Lewand and the entire organization. In September 2012, the Lions launched the club’s new Living for the City philanthropic program that produces transformational efforts that improve the well-being of metro Detroit’s underserved communities by focusing on sustainable health and wellness initiatives and community development. Living for the City supports organizations that pursue integrated approaches to physical fitness, healthy eating, housing, land use and environmental planning, public transportation, community infrastructure, and aligned workforce opportunities.
In 2009, Lewand completed another major initiative that continues to help transform the Lions business operations. The Lions unveiled a new comprehensive brand that launched changes to the team’s logo and uniforms, a new team logotype and font and streamlined branding elements. The evolution of the Lions brand is the most complete and all-encompassing modification in franchise history. The new brand now extends beyond the logo on the helmet and presents a consistent visual identity in new, versatile and distinctive ways.
FORD FIELD PHENOMENON
Under Lewand’s guidance and direction, Ford Field has become the crown jewel of downtown Detroit and serves as a cornerstone in the city’s urban renewal and revitalization efforts. The facility opened to rave reviews in 2002, with the publisher of the Detroit Free Press stating that Ford Field “tells [Detroiters] who we are and suggests what we can be. Now it’s up to the rest of us to create a downtown and a city that matches the vision Ford Field realizes.”
Few venues, considering space, amenities and operations, have the flexibility to host and execute the variety of large-scale events as does Ford Field.
Lewand leads in the procurement of all events at Ford Field, including college football, MHSAA high school football, concerts, motorsports and various trade shows. Few venues in the U.S. host as many football events of all levels as does Ford Field, filling virtually every weekend in the fall. In any given year, Ford Field dedicates several dates to youth, high school, college and NFL games at Ford Field. This year alone, 13 football games will be played from Thanksgiving Day through December.
Lewand has led in the effort for the Lions to partner with the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conferences to launch a new college bowl game at Ford Field in December 2014.
For the past 12 years, Ford Field has been the home to the Little Caesars Bowl, as well as the MAC Football Championship Game for the past 10 years.
An example of Ford Field’s unique capability occurred in 2010 when it hosted the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings on a re-scheduled Monday Night Game, December 13, a day after the Lions defeated the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, 10-3, with just less than 20 hours to prepare for the relocated NFL game.
Commercial development has grown as well recently at Ford Field with new tenants, such as Lowe Campbell Ewald, an integrated marketing and advertising agency, and restaurants like The Breadstick.
SUPER BOWL XL
Ford Field dazzled in 2006 when the city of Detroit hosted Super Bowl XL. Lewand served as the point person for the Lions and Ford Field on the Host Committee for Super Bowl XL, and he was among the key figures leading the city’s hosting of the game and events surrounding Super Bowl XL, which was widely-acclaimed as successful and critical to Detroit’s future growth. Super Bowl XL injected an estimated $260 million economic boost to the Metro Detroit region.
OTHER SHINING MOMENTS
Behind Lewand’s leadership, Ford Field once again stepped to the forefront in April 2009 as Detroit, for the first time, hosted the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. The championship culminated six years of planning, including Lewand representing the organization in a partnership with the NCAA to present the Final Four in a groundbreaking manner that has set the standard for all future sites.
The event featured a first for the Final Four—a center-stadium elevated playing floor configuration that allowed for the utilization of all stadium seats. The evolutional 2009 Ford Field model has since become the standard for all stadiums hosting Final Fours.
The 2009 Final Four also saw Ford Field break long-standing records, including: attendance for the practice session on Final Four Friday (nearly 30,000), the National Semifinals (72,456) and National Championship game (72,992). Overall, a record 145,378 fans attended the Final Four. By hosting the Final Four, Ford Field was the centerpiece for a weekend that had an estimated $30-50 million impact on the city of Detroit and the metro area.
Attendance records were not only set inside Ford Field, but also at ancillary events, such as Hoops City at the Cobo Hall Convention Center. All of these events generated a tremendous opportunity for both residents and visitors to enjoy downtown Detroit over a five-day period.
Paced by Lewand’s leadership, the organization followed up that tremendous accomplishment with the highly successful hosting of the 2010 Men’s Hockey Frozen Four. Like the basketball championship, Ford Field allowed the NCAA to elevate one of its marquee events to even greater heights.
For the first time, the 2010 Frozen Four was held in a large-stadium venue with the portable ice configuration set-up used in the NHL’s annual Winter Classic. The championship garnered record crowds (34,954 for the National Semifinals and 37,592 for the National Championship) that set NCAA Frozen Four records and world indoor hockey records.
Ford Field became the first venue to host the Men’s Final Four and the Men’s Frozen Four in back-to-back years.
In April 2007 Ford Field hosted WWE’s Wrestlemania 23 that set a new Ford Field all-events attendance record (80,103) and had a $25 million impact on the Metro Detroit area.
In June 2011, Ford Field hosted the opening round of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup with two soccer matches between Panama and Guadeloupe and the United States and Canada. The opening round match was the first soccer game played by the U.S. Men’s National Team in the Metro Detroit area since the World Cup in 1994, and it drew the largest crowd (28,209) for a U.S. match in the Gold Cup opening round since 2003.
A “LEADER AND BEST”
Lewand possesses a strong educational background, having received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1991, and completing both his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan Law School and Master in Business Administration from the University of Michigan Business School in 1996. Lewand aided the Michigan football program in various capacities on a volunteer basis while attending the school. He also worked for the Lions on a part-time basis while completing work on his graduate degrees.
In 1991, Lewand served as an environmental advisor for the Governor of Indiana, Evan Bayh. Following a year in that position, he entered graduate school at Michigan. He spent time working for the law firm of Dickinson Wright in Detroit, and the Chicago law firm of Kirkland and Ellis. In the summer of 1993, he worked in the White House in the Counsel’s Office for Presidential Personnel.
Lewand’s family history is entrenched in the Detroit area community. His father, F. Thomas Lewand, now serves on the staff of newly-elected Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as group executive for jobs and economic growth. He worked as an attorney for 43 years and was both the Chief of Staff for former Governor James Blanchard and the Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. His late grandfather, Joseph B. Sullivan, was a judge in the Michigan Court of Appeals and was the deputy mayor of Detroit in the 1960s.
OFF THE FIELD
Lewand is active in the community, acting as Past Chairman of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and serving on the Boards of Directors of the Detroit Zoological Society, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Parade Company.
In a collaborative effort to reduce and prevent youth sports concussions, Lewand represented the Lions and the organization’s work with Michigan legislators, the NFL and various youth sports organizations to pass state laws that have implemented concussion education and awareness programs along with a medical protocol for young athletes to return to action.
Lewand also is on the Corporate Advisory Board for the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Lewand was named as one of Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” in 1998, which honored and recognized 40 top business people in the Detroit area under the age of 40. Lewand has also been recognized nationally twice, in 2003 and 2005, by the Sports Business Journal as one of the top “40 Under 40” sports executives in the United States.
He and his wife, Suzanne, have four daughters: Cayleigh, Paige, Shannon and Erin.
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