Sports in Detroit

The U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan is home to four professional U.S. sports teams; it is one of twelve cities in the United States to have teams from the four major North American sports. Since 2017, it is the only U.S. city to have its MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams play within its downtown district (broadly defined)[1][lower-alpha 1] and one of only four U.S. cities to have said teams play within the city limits of their namesake.

All four teams compete within the city of Detroit. There are three active major sports venues within the city: 41,782-seat Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), 65,000-seat Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions), and Little Caesars Arena (home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons). Detroit is known for its avid hockey fans. Interest in the sport has given the city the moniker "Hockeytown." In 2008, the Tigers reported 3.2 million visitors with a 98.6 percent attendance rate.[2]

In college sports, the University of Detroit Mercy and Oakland University have National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I programs. Wayne State University has a Division II program, and once had Division I teams in men's and women's ice hockey but has since dropped both sports. The NCAA football Quick Lane Bowl is held at Ford Field each December. In addition, the sports teams of the University of Michigan are located in Ann Arbor, within an hour's drive of much of the Detroit metropolitan area.

Major league sports

Team League Sport Venue (capacity) Founded Titles
Detroit Lions NFL American football Ford Field (65,000) 1929 4 [n 1]
Detroit Tigers MLB Baseball Comerica Park (41,299) 1894 4
Detroit Pistons NBA Basketball Little Caesars Arena (20,491) 1941 3
Detroit Red Wings NHL Hockey Little Caesars Arena (19,515) 1926 11
Detroit Mechanix AUDL Ultimate Bishop Foley Catholic High School (1,000) 2010 0
  1. The Lions have not won any Super Bowls, but were NFL champions four times (1935, 1952, 1953, 1957) in the pre-Super Bowl era.

On July 12, 2005, Comerica Park hosted that year's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and Ford Field hosted Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. Comerica Park hosted games 1 and 2 of the 2006 World Series, as well as games 3 and 4 of the 2012 World Series.

The Palace held NBA Finals games 3, 4 and 5 in both 2004 and 2005, and also hosted all but two home games of the Detroit Shock (now known as the Dallas Wings) in that franchise's four WNBA Finals appearances while based in the Detroit area (championships in 2003, 2006, and 2008, plus a losing appearance in 2007). The two exceptions were the title-clinching victories in 2006 and 2008, which both took place elsewhere due to scheduling conflicts—Joe Louis Arena in 2006 and the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti in 2008.

In addition, the 2014 NHL Winter Classic was played on January 1, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

City of Champions (1930s)

Detroit was given the name "City of Champions" in the 1930s, for a series of successes both in individual and in team sport. The Detroit Lions won the National Football League championship in 1935. The Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant in 1934 and again in 1935, subsequently winning the World Series in 1935. The Detroit Red Wings won the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup in 1936 and 1937.[3][4] This meant Detroit featured the defending champions in the NFL, NHL and MLB simultaneously from April 11, 1936 through October 5, 1936. Detroit remains the only city to win three major professional sports championships in the same year and the only city to win NHL and NFL titles in the same year (a feat it repeated in 1952).

In individual sports, Gar Wood (a native Detroiter) won the Harmsworth Trophy for unlimited powerboat racing on the Detroit River in 1931. In the following year, Eddie "the Midnight Express" Tolan, a black sprinter who had graduated from Detroit's Cass Technical High School in 1927, won the 100- and 200-meter races and two gold medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics. Boxer Joe Louis, who came to Detroit when he was 12 years old and started his professional career in the city, won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1937.

April 18, 2011 was the 75th anniversary of Champions Day in Michigan.[5]

College sports

The following table shows the NCAA Division I and Division II college sports programs in the metro Detroit area:

Team Division Conference Venue Location
Michigan Wolverines Division I (FBS) Big Ten Conference various, including Michigan Stadium and Crisler Center Ann Arbor
Eastern Michigan Eagles Division I (FBS) Mid-American Conference various, including Rynearson Stadium
and EMU Convocation Center
Detroit Mercy Titans Division I Horizon League various, including Calihan Hall Detroit
Oakland Golden Grizzlies Division I Horizon League various, including Athletics Center O'rena Rochester
Wayne State Warriors Division II Great Lakes various Detroit

There are also numerous small college athletic programs in the Detroit Metro area.

School Team Division Conference City
Adrian College Adrian Bulldogs Division III Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Adrian
Cleary University Cleary Cougars NAIA Independent Howell
Concordia University Concordia Cardinals NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Ann Arbor
University of Michigan–Dearborn UM-Dearborn Wolverines NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Dearborn
Marygrove College Marygrove Mustangs NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Southfield
Madonna University Madonna Crusaders NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Livonia
Rochester College Rochester Warriors NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Rochester Hills
Lawrence Technological University Lawrence Tech Blue Devils NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Southfield
Siena Heights University Siena Heights Saints NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Adrian
Henry Ford College Henry Ford Hawks NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Dearborn
Macomb Community College Macomb Monarchs NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Warren
Oakland Community College Oakland Raiders NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Waterford
St. Clair County Community College St. Clair Skippers NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Port Huron
Schoolcraft College Schoolcraft Ocelots NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Livonia
Wayne County Community College District Wayne County Wildcats NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Detroit

On December 13, 2003, what was then the largest verified crowd in basketball history (78,129) packed Ford Field to watch the University of Kentucky defeat Michigan State University, 79–74.[6] Ford Field hosted the Final Four of the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

The Frozen Four, the term for the semifinals and final of the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, was held at Ford Field on April 8 and 10, 2010.


Detroit has bid to host Summer Olympic Games more often than any other city which has not yet hosted, participating in International Olympic Committee elections for the 1944 (placing 3rd, behind bid winner London), 1952 (5th place), 1956 (4th place), 1960 (3rd place), 1964 (2nd place), 1968 (2nd place) and 1972 (4th place) Games.

Oakland Hills Country Club, located in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, has hosted numerous high-profile golf events. It has hosted the U.S. Open six times, most recently in 1996; the PGA Championship three times, most recently in 2008; the U.S. Senior Open in 1981 and 1991; the U.S. Amateur in 2002; and the Ryder Cup in 2004.

The Detroit Marathon is also organized annually in the city, usually held in October.

Detroit is home to the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. The race took place on the streets of downtown Detroit from 1982 until 1988, and then from 1989 (when the sanction moved from Formula One to IndyCars) at Belle Isle until now. The race was not held from 2002−2006.

The Virginia Slims of Detroit was a WTA Tour women's tennis tournament held from 1972 to 1983, which featured top ranked players such as Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

The UFC 9 mixed martial arts event was held at Cobo Arena in 1996 and UFC 123 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2010.

The Palace of Auburn Hills held NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament Finals on March 15–17, 2007.

The Professional Bowlers Association Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour holds the Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes in the suburb of Taylor.

The suburb of Southfield hosts the annual Gold Cup Polo tournament at Word of Faith International Christian Center, formerly known as Duns Scotus College.[7]

The city hosted the Red Bull Air Race in 2008 on the International Riverfront.

Water sports

Sailboat racing is a major sport in the Detroit area. Lake Saint Clair is home to many yacht clubs which host regattas. Bayview Yacht Club, the Detroit Yacht Club, Crescent Sail Yacht Club, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, The Windsor Yacht Club, and the Edison Boat Club each participate in and are governed by the Detroit Regional Yacht-Racing Association or DRYA. Detroit is home to many One-Design fleets including North American 40s, Cal 25s, Cuthbertson and Cassian 35s, Crescent Sailboats, Express 27s, J 120s, J 105, and Flying Scots. The Crescent Sailboat, NA-40, and the L boat were designed and built exclusively in Detroit. Detroit also has a very active and competitive junior sailing program.

Since 1904, the city has been home to the American Power Boat Association Gold Cup unlimited hydroplane boat race, held annually on the Detroit River near Belle Isle.[8] Since 1916, the city has been home to Unlimited Hydroplane racing, held annually (with exceptions) on the Detroit River near Belle Isle. Often, the hydroplane boat race is for the APBA Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the Gold Cup (first awarded in 1904, created by Tiffany) which is the oldest active motorsport trophy in the world.[9]



Club Sport League Venue Location
Detroit Indy Grand Prix Auto racing IRL Belle Isle Park Detroit
Gold Cup Hydroplane racing APBA Detroit River Detroit


Club Sport League Venue Location
Michigan Bucks Soccer Premier Development League Ultimate Soccer Arenas Pontiac
Detroit City FC Soccer National Premier Soccer League Keyworth Stadium Hamtramck
Michigan Stars FC Soccer National Premier Soccer League Wisner Stadium Pontiac
Carpathia FC Soccer Premier League of America Carpathia Club Sterling Heights
Oakland County FC Soccer Premier League of America Stoney Creek High School Rochester Hills
Utica Unicorns Baseball United Shore Professional Baseball League Jimmy Johns Field Utica
Eastside Diamond Hoppers Baseball United Shore Professional Baseball League Jimmy Johns Field Utica
Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers Baseball United Shore Professional Baseball League Jimmy Johns Field Utica
Detroit Coast II Coast All-Stars Basketball American Basketball Association Cass Technical High School Detroit
Motor City Firebirds Basketball American Basketball Association Inkster Recreation Complex Inkster
Oakland County Cowboys Basketball American Basketball Association Walled Lake High School Walled Lake
Team NetWork Basketball American Basketball Association Romulus Athletic Center Romulus
Motor City Lacrosse Club Lacrosse Midwest Cities Lacrosse Conference Troy Athens High School Troy
USA Hockey National Team Development Program Ice Hockey United States Hockey League USA Hockey Arena Plymouth, Michigan
Metro Jets Ice Hockey North American 3 Hockey League Fraser Hockeyland Fraser
Detroit Fighting Irish Ice Hockey United States Premier Hockey League Brownstown Sports Arena Brownstown
Motor City Hawks Ice Hockey United States Premier Hockey League McCann Arena Grosse Pointe
Detroit Coney Dogs Indoor Lacrosse Continental Indoor Lacrosse League Inline Hockey Center West Bloomfield
Alkali Surge Inline Hockey National Roller Hockey League Joe Dumars Fieldhouse Shelby Township
Alkali Revive Inline Hockey National Roller Hockey League Jewish Community Center West Bloomfield
Detroit Stars Inline Hockey National Roller Hockey League Canfield Alkali Arena Dearborn Heights
Detroit Bordercats Inline Hockey National Roller Hockey League Joe Dumars Fieldhouse Shelby Township
Detroit Diesels Football Great Lakes Football League Robicaud High School Detroit
Detroit Ravens Football Great Lakes Football League Loyola High School Detroit
Detroit Seminoles Football Great Lakes Football League Memorial Park Detroit
Michigan Hurricanes Football Great Lakes Football League Fordson High School Eastpointe
Motor City Sting Football Great Lakes Football League N/A Detroit
Renaissance City Chargers Football Great Midwest Football League Detroit King High School Detroit
Southern Michigan Timberwolves Football Great Lakes Football League Navarre Field Monroe
Detroit Red Dogs Football Great Lakes Football League N/A Detroit
Michigan Lightning Football Great Midwest Football League Taylor Sportsplex Taylor
Wayne County Bengals Football Great Midwest Football League N/A Highland Park
Detroit Mechanix Ultimate American Ultimate Disc League Bishop Foley Catholic High School Detroit
Detroit Roller Derby Roller derby WFTDA Masonic Temple Detroit
Detroit Tradesmen Rugby Club Rugby union USA Rugby Glenn W. Levey Middle School Detroit
Detroit Renegades eSports NA LCS, etc. N/A Detroit
Detroit rugby league team Rugby league AMNRL N/A Detroit
Detroit Wolfetones Gaelic Football Gaelic Football Gaelic Athletic Association Flodin Park Detroit

Former teams

Club League Venue Founded Ended Fate of team Titles in
Detroit Wolverines National League Baseball Recreation Park 1881 1888 Team folded 1
Detroit Lightning MISL Cobo Arena 1979 1980 Team folded 0
Detroit Drive AFL Arena Football Joe Louis Arena 1988 1993 Team folded 4
Detroit Turbos MILL Indoor Lacrosse Joe Louis Arena 1989 1994 Team folded 1
Detroit Rockers NPSL Indoor Soccer Joe Louis Arena/
Compuware Arena/
The Palace of Auburn Hills
1990 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Neon/Safari CISL Indoor Soccer The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 1997 Team folded 0
Detroit Vipers IHL Hockey The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Fury AFL Arena Football The Palace of Auburn Hills 2001 2004 Team folded 0
Detroit Ignition MISL/XSL Indoor Soccer Compuware Arena 2006 2009 League folded 1
Detroit Cougars NASL Soccer * Tiger Stadium 1968 1968 Team folded 0
Detroit Express NASL Soccer Pontiac Silverdome 1978 1981 Washington Diplomats 0
Detroit Express ASL Soccer Pontiac Silverdome 1981 1984 League folded 1
Detroit Shock WNBA Basketball The Palace of Auburn Hills 1998 2009 Relocated to Tulsa as the Tulsa Shock; relocated again in 2016 as the Dallas Wings 3
Detroit Demolition WPF Football Livonia Franklin High School 2002 2011 Suspended play 5
Michigan Panthers USFL Football Pontiac Silverdome 1983 1984 Merged with the Oakland Invaders 1
Michigan Stags WHA Hockey Cobo Arena 1974 1975 Merged with the Baltimore Blades 0
Detroit Wheels WFL Football Rynearson Stadium 1974 1974 Folded 0
Detroit Loves WTT Tennis Cobo Arena 1974 1974 Moved to Indiana 0
Detroit Caesars APSPSL Softball East Detroit Memorial Field 1977 1979 Renamed 2
Detroit Auto Kings APSPSL Softball East Detroit Memorial Field 1980 1980 Folded 0

* In 1967, Detroit was selected as one of the cities to adopt a European professional soccer club in a bid to promote the game Stateside. The event was planned to coincide with Europe's off/close season when the teams would have otherwise been dormant for the summer. Detroit was represented by the Northern Irish team Glentoran, playing as the Detroit Cougars.



Detroit has one FM radio station broadcasting sports in the metro Detroit area, 97.1 FM WXYT. WJR-AM 760 broadcasts the Detroit Lions games.

Professional wrestling

Historically, Detroit was home to its own professional wrestling territory, Big Time Wrestling, from the 1950s until the 1980s. In 2007, Detroit hosted World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s WrestleMania 23 which attracted 80,103 fans to Ford Field on April 1, 2007; the event marking the twentieth anniversary of WrestleMania III which drew a reported 93,173 to the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan in 1987. WWE has also held three of the annual Survivor Series events in Detroit with the 1991, 1999, and 2005 pay-per-views emanating from Joe Louis Arena, as well as Vengeance 2002. Detroit also hosted the returning Saturday Night's Main Event XXXII on March 18, 2006 and numerous episodes of the weekly Monday Night Raw and SmackDown telecasts since 1994 and 1999, respectively.

See also


  1. Little Caesars Arena, home to the Pistons and Red Wings, is technically in Midtown Detroit, a distinct neighborhood from downtown, but lies within blocks of the city's other two major venues, Comerica Park and Ford Field.


  1. "Pistons move makes Detroit only North American city with 4 pro..."
  2. MLB Attendance Report - 2008.ESPN. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2010-07-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Detroit News.
  4. Visit Detroit
  5. "Bring Back Champions Day Campaign". Archived from the original on 2011-07-09. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  6. History Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Southfield Gold Cup Polo. (July 21, 2000). PRNewswire. Retrieved on January 19, 2008.
  8. History Archived 2007-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. The Detroit APBA Gold Cup
  9. see History. The Detroit APBA Gold Cup. Retrieved January 24, 2011.

Further reading

  • Gavrilovich, Peter and Bill McGraw (2000). The Detroit Almanac. Detroit Free Press. ISBN 0-937247-34-0.
  • Gavrilovich, Peter and Bill McGraw (2006). The Detroit Almanac, 2nd edition. Detroit Free Press. ISBN 978-0-937247-48-8.
  • Cameron, T.C. Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries. Arcadia Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0738560146, 9780738560144. Available at Google Books.
  • Cameron, T.C. Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries. Arcadia Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0738561681, 9780738561684.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.