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Lions still interested in hosting NFL Draft, Final Four

ORLANDO – Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood admitted at the annual league meetings Monday he was a little disappointed the Lions aren't in the running to host the NFL Draft in 2019 and 2020.

"The issues around our bid were primarily conflicts with the stadium," Wood said. "We're hosting for the next several years, I think it's called the International Robotics Competition. So, it's like 50,000 people that come in and have built robots to do different things, and one of those weekends conflicted with the 2019 Draft, so we were out completely.

"It also conflicted with the 2020 Draft, but they had agreed with two years advance notice they would move their event to a different weekend. So, when we went in, there were eight finalists, we were the only city that couldn't host it both years, so we were only really bidding on 2020."

Cleveland/Canton, Kansas City, Tennessee, Denver and Las Vegas are finalists to host the draft in 2019 and 2020.

The 2020 season is the 100th anniversary of the NFL, and Wood thinks the league probably has ideas for a whole series of celebrations that might include the draft being in a very specific location, possibly Canton.

"They're going to start looking at 2021 and beyond and we'll be right back in the mix for that, so hopefully we'll get one, if not the next two shortly thereafter."

The Ford Family recently upgraded Ford Field with more than $100 million in renovations to modernize the 15-year-old building not only for improving the fan and player experience, but also being able to showcase it for bids such as these.

Along with the draft, Wood said the organization is in the final stages of bidding on another Final Four to come back to Detroit.

"It's a five-year window, I think it's the 2023 through 2026 years," Wood said of the Final Four bidding. "We have a presentation coming up in June around that.

"It's just another great way to showcase the rebirth of our city, I think. We put on a great show a number of years ago when we were kind of in the throes of the deep recession. We filled up the stadium both days. Certainly benefitted with Michigan State being in the Final Four and making it all the way to the finals. I think the city now would be even more prepared for it and it would be something we'd be proud to put on."

As for potentially hosting another Super Bowl, Wood isn't so optimistic about Detroit's chances.

"The Super Bowl, we're going to talk a little bit about that on Wednesday," he said. "I think, you've probably read some of this and I've mentioned it, they're changing the process for the Super Bowl.

"I think it's going to be a lot less bidding and a lot more just awarding it to cities that are destination cities. Still keeping it open if a city builds a new stadium, like Minnesota did this year. So, I don't want to say never, but I think it's going to be really difficult for us to get another Super Bowl."

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