Detroit businesses consider NCAA Tournament games a dress rehearsal for 2024 NFL Draft

(CBS DETROIT) – With the Sweet 16 kicking off Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, several business owners tell us it’s a dress rehearsal for the other significant sporting events the city will host over the next month.

This weekend, Purdue seeks to clinch a spot in the Final Four in more than 40 years.

Outside LCA, everything is set to beam the game into homes and bars across the country and down the street.

At Harry’s Detroit, they’ve turned their parking lot into an outdoor bar to complement the two others inside.


Andres Gutierrez/CBS Detroit

“At any one time, I’d say 400 to 500 people, given the outside, upstairs, and downstairs. So between those three, you know, we could probably max out about 800, 900,” said Hugh Leonard, general manager of Harry’s Detroit.

With that many people, Leonard wants to ensure no one goes thirsty, so he puts his orders in a week and a half before significant events like this weekend and the upcoming NFL Draft.

“So massive orders, weird delivery days, you know, but prepping early is going to be the big thing. I don’t want to do anything last minute,” Leonard said.

And if you’re visiting downtown, signs are in place letting drivers know which streets near Campus Martius are closed as the city begins to build the stage for the NFL Draft.

Chris Walker of CBS Sports looks ahead to the Sweet 16


Road closures may create stop-and-go traffic that may keep some rideshare drivers, like Walter Sunga, away.

“Sometimes, like the wait, it’s not worth it for me. But if I’m like, let’s say if I’m in Birmingham, taking someone down there. I’ll do that, but I won’t sit here and wait ,” Sunga said.

Back at Harry’s, they can’t wait until tip-off.

“The city is on top; this place is just humming. It feels alive. So it’s great having a bunch of people in here that might not, you know, have a different view of Detroit than what it actually is,” Leonard said . “So getting them here, eating, drinking, being social, getting to meet real Detroiters is something I really enjoy.”