Detroit has plenty to offer Final Four fans

March 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Detroit is about to go hoops crazy as the NCAA Final Four fans start rolling into town next week, not a moment too soon for a region eager for some fun.

The Final Four championship games will be held Saturday and Monday at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, and downtown hoteliers and bar and restaurant owners are itching to show off refurbished Art Deco hotels and slicked up bars and restaurants to out-of-town visitors who may be surprised at all the entertainment options in the city.

Some 100,000 visitors are expected to stream into the city, with an estimated $50 million economic impact, according to the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

If you’re a fan of Connecticut or Villanova, who got into the Final Four, and are considering traveling to Detroit for the games, rest assured that there’s a lot going on off the court, too.

Currently there are no hotel rooms to be had downtown for Saturday and Sunday, but it’s worth calling the downtown hotels to double-check closer to next weekend because some blocks of reserved rooms may become available as folks who booked rooms hoping their teams will win, have to cancel. Representatives for the Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby recommend checking back.

Downtown bars and restaurants will have extended hours and open patios, and host live entertainment and unveil special menu items just for the Final Four.

There are events that families with children will enjoy — some free, some for a nominal price — including a carousel on the Detroit riverfront just east of General Motors world headquarters that children can ride for $1 per ride, and Hoop City, a Friday-Sunday event at Cobo Center where fans of all ages can shoot hoops and enter competitions.

A free music festival will take place just east of GM headquarters Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“There’s that selfish side that we all have, that Michigan State will get into the Final Four,” said Michael Callahan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But regardless of who wins, it will be a great weekend in Detroit for everybody.”

Here are some highlights in and around downtown Detroit over Final Four weekend:

Final Four Fan Gathering restaurants:

There are four NCAA-sanctioned gathering places for fans, for each of the four brackets.

East Regional : Bookies Tavern, 2208 Cass at Columbia, Detroit. Bookies will host the east regional fans at its new location on Cass Avenue.

Co-owner Jay Lambrecht reports that DJ Katalist will be spinning on the first and second floors, and there will be another DJ on the club’s rooftop deck. “We’ll be grilling, doing some face painting … whatever team it is that we host, we are going to be completely decked out for that school,” Lambrecht said. “All the staff will be wearing the team’s jerseys and T-shirts, and we’ll be serving tailgate food all weekend like burgers and brats.”

Midwest Regional : Cheli’s Chili Bar , 47 E. Adams, Detroit. Cheli’s will have its deck, patio and loft open, plus the party tent will be up outside, and popular groovemeisters 50 Amp Fuse will perform Saturday and Monday. On Sunday, former University of Detroit basketball coach Dick Vitale will be at the club promoting his new book “Living a Dream.”

South Regional : Detroit Beer Co., 1529 Broadway, Detroit. The third level of the bar will be given over entirely to fans of the South Regional champs. Lots of sports bar-type food will be available along with nine beers on tap. The bar will open early — at 9 a.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. Monday — and will remain open until 2 a.m. each of those nights.

West Regional: Hockeytown Cafe, 2301 Woodward, Detroit. Hockeytown will show game action on its 30 plasma TVs and feature 50 different beers from around the world, and all three levels will be open, including the rooftop deck.

Fun for all ages

Hoop City: From noon to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at Cobo Center in Detroit. Fans of all ages are invited to run, jump, shoot and play. There will be competitions, clinics, performances, photo ops and prizes. Admission is $8 for ages 12 and over, $6 for ages 3-11, college students, senior citizens 55 and over, and military. Ages 2 and under are free.

Final Ford Friday: On Friday, team practice at Ford Field is open to the public and free, from noon to 4 p.m.

Hershey’s College All-Star Game: 4 p.m. Friday at Ford Field. Free. Fans can watch a game between two teams comprised of college basketball’s top seniors.

Road to the Final Four 5K Run/Walk: 7 a.m. Saturday at Cobo Center. Race fees $20, $25 the day of race. The run/walk takes place along the Detroit riverfront. Register online at www.ncaamarchmadness2009.com/mens/5k_run.aspx.

Final Four Dribble: 2 p.m. Sunday at Brush and Adams Streets downtown. Fans 18 and younger can dribble from Ford Field to the entrance of Hoop City at Cobo Center. Participants will receive a free NCAA basketball and T-shirts. Open to the first 4,000 to register.

Feet on the Street bus and walking tours: Curious about the pre-Depression skyscrapers, of neighborhoods that reflect Detroit’s boom and bust? Organizer Linda Yellin conducts walking tours of downtown Detroit and the Eastern Market. One of her most popular bus tours of Detroit is called “The Good, Bad & Hopeful.” Call (248) 353-8687 or go to feetonthestreettours.com to sign up.

Wheelhouse Detroit: Rent bikes for all ages, including cruisers, comfort hybrids, road bikes and trailers at Rivard Plaza on the Detroit riverfront just east of GM headquarters. Wheelhouse will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Motown Historical Museum: See where the “sound of young America” that revolutionized pop music was born in 1959. The museum, at 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, will have special Sunday hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 5 because of the influx of Final Four visitors, with the last guided tour starting at 2:15 p.m. Regular visiting hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. are in force for Friday, April 3, and Saturday, April 4. Admission: adults $10, seniors and children 12 and under, $8. Call (313) 875-2264.

Canada: Because of Detroit’s easy access to Canada, for the first time ever Final Four fans will be able to enjoy international travel and drinking laws that allow 19-year-olds to partake. But visitors must provide proof of citizenship in order to cross the U.S./Canadian border. A passport will work, or an original or certified copy of a birth certificate presented along with a government-issued photo I.D. (such as driver’s license or military I.D.). For information, check http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/admiss-eng.html.

Music

There will be free music festivals Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the parking lots just east of GM, on the Detroit riverfront.

AT&T Block Party (at The Big Dance ): 6-10:30 p.m. April 3: Jesse McCartney, N.E.R.D, plus local acts.

Big Dance Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. April 4: Keith Sweat, Gavin DeGraw, NCAA Championship rally, 4 p.m. Pussycat Dolls, plus local acts

My Coke Fest at the Big Dance: 2-7 p.m. April 5: Parachute, Janelle Monae, Gym Class Heroes, Staind and Fergie, plus local acts.

Other venues:

Cliff Bells , 2030 Park Ave., Detroit. The jazz club will feature Third Coast Kings on Friday; on Saturday, NOMO; on Sunday, Subourbon Son; and on Monday, Codger. Shows start at 9:30 p.m.

Seldom Blues , 400 Renaissance Center, Detroit. Friday and Saturday, jazzman Charles Scales, 8 to midnight. On Sunday, radio host Mildred Gaddis will broadcast during brunch 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward, Detroit: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Motor City Rock Revue featuring some of the city’s top bands: Deastro, Pop Project, The Muggs, Spitting Nickels, Silent Years, Friendly Foes and The Displays.

Magic Bag, 22918 Woodward, Ferndale. 8 p.m. Friday: Lez Zeppelin, all-girl band does Led Zeppelin. Opening act: Detroit’s own Broadzilla.

Casinos

Motor City Casino. The hoops stars aren’t the only champions in town. On Sunday, the Motor City Casino will host XCC: Night of Champions, a cagefighting championship put on by Michigan’s Mixed Martial Arts organization at 7:30 p.m. in the casino’s Sound Board room. Competing will be lightweight champion Eric “The Monster” Moon, Mike “Hurricane” Hernandez, featherweight champion Parris “P-Dot” Boyd, and Kyle “Superman” Bergquist. There will be 15 fights, including eight title bouts. Doors open at 6:30, and fights start at 7:30. Ticket prices range from $45-$200, and are available at all Ticketmaster locations and Ticketmaster.com, or at the MotorCity Casino Hotel Box Office from Friday-Sunday. To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000.

Greektown Casino. DJ Sandman will be spinning a special Final Four set Monday night in the casino’s Eclipz Lounge.

Restaurants/bars

Westin Book Cadillac Hotel , 1114 Washington Blvd., Detroit. Even if you didn’t get a room — they’re all booked — visitors definitely want to step into this gorgeous, restored 1925 palace for coffee, a drink or a bite to eat, and take in the vintage beauty. The restaurant Roast usually just serves lunch Monday through Friday, but will have special Saturday lunch hours from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for Final Four weekend, and is taking reservations for dinner all three nights. 24grille and the Motor Bar will be completely open to the public except for 5:30-7:30 Sunday, when 24Grille is closed for a private party.

Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby, 525 W. Lafayette, Detroit. Another one of the city’s refurbished, vintage gems that architecture buffs will want to explore, the Fort Shelby is booked solid for rooms, but if you need a room it’s worth calling or going to the Doubletree Web site, because some blocks of reserved rooms may become available depending upon what teams go to the Final Four. You can always duck into Bear Claw for coffee or the Round Bar for a cocktail. The hotel’s bars and restaurant will stay open Friday and Saturday nights until 1 a.m., Sunday until midnight and Monday until 1 a.m. The restaurant will launch its Thursday and Friday $9.95 lunch buffet in time for Final Four fans, and the sushi bar will be open until 1 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday. The restaurant’s summer menu items, including expanded entrĂ©e salads, will be rolled out as well.

Small Plates, 1521 Broadway, Detroit. It isn’t your typical sports hangout, but Small Plates is so close to Ford Field — and to one of the official fan bars, the Detroit Beer Co. — that owner Todd Stern expects to be busy all weekend. The restaurant will have extended hours, opening at 11 a.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and will stay open until 2 a.m. Friday, Saturday, until the last guest leaves on Sunday, and until 1 a.m. Monday. Stern says they’re bringing Stroh’s beer back to the menu, hoping out-of-town visitors will enjoy the historic Detroit beer, and as well as the signature chicken skewers from its first year. The patio will open Wednesday and remain open throughout Final Four weekend.

Tom’s Oyster Bar, 519 E. Jefferson, Detroit. Tom’s will be open Sunday (it usually isn’t) from noon to midnight, and shuttle buses will ferry fans to Ford Field on Saturday and Monday.

You can reach Susan Whitall at (313) 222-2156 or swhitall@detnews.com.

http://detroitnews.com/article/20090329/ENT04/903290316/Detroit+has+plenty+to+offer+Final+Four+fans

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