By: Doug Kelly

Director of Communications

Football Bowl Association

March 31, 2016

College bowl games provide the opportunity for fans to visit and experience new destinations, and although Detroit may not be the first city to come to mind when considering a December vacation, take a second to think “why not?” The Detroit Lions are the only NFL team that hosts and operates a college bowl game, The Quick Lane Bowl. Nicki Keller, event coordinator for the Detroit Lions, talks about what Detroit has to offer players and fans when they come to experience the Quick Lane Bowl.

People don’t typically think of Detroit as a go-to destination spot during the bowl season. What experiences does Detroit have to offer fans of participating teams in the days surrounding the Quick Lane Bowl?

“The buzz about why Detroit is the next “comeback city” is at a constant increase. New bars and restaurants are opening in Downtown Detroit at a rapid rate. The Detroit Red Wings are constructing their brand new stadium just seconds from Ford Field to add to the positive momentum that is building in the city.

Our guests have the opportunity to experience the one-of-a-kind Fowling warehouse. This unique game founded in Detroit combines elements of football, bowling and horseshoes. The Henry Ford Museum is another must-see experience for our guests to learn about the rich culture that Detroit has to offer. Our guests can also go ice skating in the heart of Downtown Detroit at our Campus Martius Park while in town for the Quick Lane Bowl. If philanthropy or volunteering is important to our guests, they can check out the Gleaners Foodbank of Southeastern Michigan where food is delivered, prepped and shipped out to Detroit’s five local counties. Last year our guests had the opportunity to attend a National Football League game featuring the Detroit Lions versus the San Francisco 49ers.

Detroit also has a budding night-life scene and features three different options of casinos: the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino. Detroit is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants, including The London Chophouse, Coach Insignia (on the top of the GM Renaissance Center) and Michael Symon’s Roast located in the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit.

For arts and culture lovers, Detroit has countless opportunities to indulge their passions. The city’s theatre offerings are robust. Fans can visit the world-class Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) or one of the dozens of art galleries throughout diverse neighborhoods. And of course, Detroit might be the Motor City, but it’s also known internationally as Motown. A visit to the Motown Museum allows guests to witness firsthand where several music legends got their start.”

One huge advantage of bowl games is that they give players the chance to experience new cities. What cultural highlights have the players had the opportunity to experience in Detroit during previous visits?

“The City of Detroit has plenty of culture to offer, and we could book the participating institution’s schedules with tons of activities. However, we also remember that they’re here to play a football game. The players are immersed in the culture of Detroit the moment they enter the Henry Ford Museum. This event begins with a 30 minute speaking engagement that has featured a panel of Detroit Lions alumni, successful athletes turned businessmen and athletes turned war veterans. During these 30 minutes the panel speaks about the transition from student-athlete to professional athlete and business professional. Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, the players dine buffet-style in the heart of the museum and then get the opportunity to tour the museum at their leisure. The Henry Ford Museum features important historic items, such as the Rosa Parks’ bus & the Presidential Limousine that Kennedy was assassinated in.

The teams also have the opportunity to help out Gleaners Community Foodbank of Southeastern Michigan that feeds the needy in the five counties surrounding Detroit. In 2015, the two teams collectively packed 35,000 pounds of potatoes and 2,600 snack backpacks, which touched
9,600 families.”

Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, is a major sponsor for the Quick Lane Bowl, and as we all know, Ford has deep roots in Detroit. How does the sponsorship help contribute to a sense of pride in Detroit about the game?

“Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center is extremely excited and honored to represent Detroit as title sponsor of the Quick Lane Bowl. This bowl game has become a tradition that brings the community together during the holiday season, celebrating our city and the values for which we stand, like hard work, resiliency and determination. We are delighted to be a part of it and provide support to the fans, teams and Detroit.”

College football games and NFL games often provide different experiences to fans, and it is unique that the Detroit Lions host and operate the Quick Lane Bowl. Does this have any effect on the experience surrounding the game?

“It’s our mission to provide a first-class experience to the participating conferences, participating institutions, student-athletes and fans, to promote the City of Detroit and contribute to the economic revival of Southeast Michigan, and to support community and youth groups that have adopted athletic and leadership development programs dedicated to football in the City of Detroit.

Additionally, if the NFL schedule allows, we can offer participating schools a chance to attend a Detroit Lions game as part of their experience. We also have unprecedented access to both current and alumni Detroit Lions players to be integrated in the bowl programming if, like attending the game, schedules can conform.”

Ford Field has been host to all sorts of events including concerts, NCAA Basketball Final Four and NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four. What makes the Quick Lane Bowl stand out among the other large-scale events people attend at Ford Field?

“The Quick Lane Bowl is really a chance for us to showcase the city of Detroit to the participating teams. We have the privilege of hosting these two teams for upwards of a week, which means an opportunity to show them a good time and the highlights of not only our top-notch stadium, but also Detroit as a whole.

With the Quick Lane Bowl, we also get to incorporate a community aspect with it as well. Nationally we have partnered with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and last year we raised funds resulting in a $50,000 donation to the organization. During the game we hosted a number of DAV members on the field during the national anthem and opening ceremonies.

Locally, the Quick Lane Bowl supports the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL). PAL gives the children of Detroit an opportunity to learn through athletics and develop the confidence and motivation to go far in life. The Quick Lane Bowl provides members of the Detroit PAL youth football program with new Nike jerseys and pants as well as Riddell helmets and pads. Members of the Detroit PAL youth football program were invited to the Quick Lane Bowl game on December 28 as our honored guests. While at Ford Field, they joined the teams on field for the National Anthem as well as formed a fan tunnel cheering on the teams as they took the field.

The Quick Lane Bowl is so much more than just a football game; it’s an experience that we are so pleased to provide.”

Finally, is there anything about Detroit that you would encourage fans to learn more about or explore before visiting for the Quick Lane Bowl?

“We would like to encourage all fans to learn more about our fundraising program, as it’s a great way to raise money towards their team/organization’s fundraising efforts. Click here for more information. The fundraiser will begin May 1st and run through late November. What makes our fundraiser so great is that it’s 100% risk free, and there is no minimum or maximum amount of tickets to sell. A fan’s group will also have the opportunity to win prizes and be featured on our website and social media channels!”