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Could Detroit Host Olympics?

August 20 2012 | no comments

Could the Summer Olympic games be in Detroit’s future?

There is already some grassroots support for the idea.

Detroit 2020′s Dave LewAllen looks to see if the dream of Detroit become an Olympic city is at all realistic.

The London venues now sit empty–and the Olympic focus shifts to Rio de Janiero–host city for the 2016 summer games.

Looking further ahead, could Detroit possibly be in line to host the Olympic games?


There is historical precedence. 7 times between 1939 and 1966, Detroit bid to host the summer games. Twice our city was the choice of the United States Olympic Committee–most recently for the 1968 games.

President John F. Kennedy spoke on Detroit’s behalf in 1963 as part of the city’s bid before the International Olympic Committee.

Detroit’s proposal would have put the Olympic village for athletes near Wayne State University. A 110-thousand seat Olympic Stadium would have been constructed at the State Fairgrounds along with a state of the art velodrome for cycling events.

Despite its best effort—Detroit finished second to Mexico City in the voting by IOC members.

Detroit has enjoyed a remarkable run of hosting major sporting events in recent years–from the Ryder Cup to the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

But is the city—and region—ready for the world’s largest sports competition?

Former University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin is a past president of the United States Olympic Committee.  He says “no.”

“What about Detroit? I think that’s a huge leap for Detroit to be able to host the games today,” Martin said.

And that’s exactly what Martin told Detroit Sports Commission President Dave Beachnau and a few others who gathered after the Super Bowl to figure out what’s next.

“It was great that Detroit was second back in the 60s, but times have changed and communities have realized the importance that sporting events can have on a community from an economic benefit standpoint, image building standpoint. And those are all the reasons that we have hosted those big events over the past several years but we also have to be realistic in where we are today,” Beachnau told Detroit 2020′s Dave LewAllen.

Today’s challenges make it difficult for Bill Martin to imagine Detroit could be successful with an Olympic bid.

“Simply because of resources, infrastructure and the perceptions of our community and the size of our community,” Martin said. “I see a lot of bright future for sports in our community but I don’t think we can jump to that level of the Olympics in the next decade. But in the future, absolutely,” he added.

There’s even a Facebook page that is touting Detroit as host city for the 2024 summer games.

Martin says a strategic, interim step for Detroit could be a bid for the Pan American Games.

“To even have your name in the discussion and your hat thrown in the ring and Detroit is one of the cities being considered for the Olympics again, it’s the credibility of the destination and the region that we can, and we have hosted major events and why not the Olympics?” said Beachnau.

Click here to watch part of one of “The Detroit You’ve Never Met,” the film made for the U.S. Olympic Committee to get Detroit a chance at the Olympics.

Click here to watch part two of the film.

Click here to watch part three of the film.

Photos courtesy: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

Click here to go to the Detroit 2024 Summer Olympic Games Support page.



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