It's official. Detroit wowed ESPN enough to be named a finalist in the sports network's quest to choose a host city for the Summer X Games beginning in 2014.
On Tuesday, ESPN announced the competing cities had been narrowed down to Detroit, Chicago, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, N.C. Organizers Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler, with the support of city administration, business leaders and other stakeholders, submitted their official bid for the project in early April.
"Detroit has been the most vociferous in its desire to host the games, at least on social media," ESPN said in the release that name-checked Krease and Koehler, as well as Quicken Loans founder and Detroit developer Dan Gilbert.
Krease, founder and director Action Sports Detroit, the committee responsible for the bid had his own explanation of the city's merits:
“Detroit is a front-runner in this race because it has a strong local community of support, an overflow of opportunity, and an energetic movement of young citizens striving to bring the event here," he said in a statement.
If the city is eventually chosen, the extreme sports competition would take place for three consecutive summers. Events like skateboarding, car racing, motocross and BMX would take place primarily downtown. Possible venues include Hart Plaza, Joe Louis Arena, Roosevelt Park, Ford Field, Belle Isle and the riverfront, where a new permanent skate park could be built.
Krease began angling for the X Games to come to Detroit since late last year, and in a few short months a cool idea turned serious. He quit his job to work on the bid full time, and Koehler moved from Chicago (one of the competing cities) to help.
They spent early 2013 consulting with venues, wooing big names like Dan Gilbert and determining prices of everything from winners' medals to forklifts. They've secured corporate donations for the event, as the host city is expected to cover a portion of the total. An early estimate for Detroit's buy-in was $7 million, around a third of the total costs in LA. But according to Crain's Detroit Business, their estimate for the total cost in Detroit is now closer to $9 million, significantly lower than LA's $20 million, and Detroit's responsibility would also be much lower.
Beyond the spreadsheet of figures and myriad requirements from ESPN, they sent the network an extra credit video, one they hoped might persuade the network what a stunning backdrop the city could be for the games. Detroit creative advertising agency The Work Inc. made the trailer.
ESPN said earlier they would make their final decision by August. Organizers aren't likely to be sitting around waiting, however.
“The final months of the bid process are focused on building out a more detailed plan for the three-day event, growing community and awareness and excitement through local events, and exposing ESPN to our movement and vision by hosting them for an official site visit, Krease said.
They just premiered the X Games trailer at a buzzy Eastern Market party, and said earlier they would work with others in the city to plan programming to complement the games, including a possible music and film festival.
"Our vision for this is to turn it into a cultural event, use an event platform to enable the people who are doing really neat things here," Krease told The Huffington Post earlier. "That's been my passion, trying to find the place to bridge all the corporate investment in the city with the grassroots things happening on the ground. This is the perfect event to be able to do that."