You could only chuckle when the reports about Detroit hosting the Super Bowl started coming in. The game was awarded to the Motor City as a nod to the car manufacturers, William Clay Ford the owner of the Lions, Roger Penske and as a reward for building a new stadium.
Detroit’s like any other “Old World” city. Industry has come and gone, jobs have come and gone, people are trying to move out and the town is dark and gray in the winter. Unless you’re in the car business, nobody’s moving to Detroit. But like any of the established cities in the US, there are nice places to be found.
Gross Pointe, Bloomfield Hills, Troy, they’re all suburbs, just like suburbs anywhere else: nice neighborhoods, good places to live and raise kids. There are hockey leagues everywhere and they celebrate their cold weather as part of the culture. In fact, people are proud of their ability to endure, to overcome the things that are part of living in a place that has snow, sleet, and cold temperatures.
Detroit is the hometown of sportswriter Mitch Albom (he also wrote Tuesdays With Morrie) who wrote a touchy-feely piece about warmth of character of the people of Detroit. His point was that there’s some nobility in working two jobs to make ends meet. He compared his town to Orlando and Disney World saying that’s a fabricated world and Detroit is real.
And I don’t disagree with any of that.
If you’re living in Detroit either you have to or you want to. There’s no in between. Either you can’t leave or you really want to stay. That’s not the case is most of the cities hosting the Super Bowl, including Jacksonville. Nobody has to live in Jacksonville. They’re not tied to the company store, the job at the mill or the mine. People live there because the living is easy and nice. And there’s plenty of “warmth of character” among the people who live there as well.
I’m over all of the shots the media took at Jacksonville last year. I’ve always said you have to let the city reveal itself to you instead of it slapping you in the face as soon as you get there. But I’m still a little frosted about the continued snide comments from poorly dressed, over-fed, ill-informed, self-important hacks who spent four days there and all of the sudden became experts.
One writer wrote the 16 reasons the Super Bowl is ok in Detroit. Reasons #2 and #14 were “It’s not Jacksonville.”
Detroit is getting nice reviews for their “hospitality” and the people have been nice. Kind of standoffish, but nice. Motown does have casinos, something most people I’ve talked to didn’t know. But the people who are visiting have figured that out right away. Maybe that’s why Detroit is getting a little bit of a pass. That, and everybody knew the weather was going to be a factor (bad).
So Jacksonville suffered from; 1) nobody knew what to expect, 2) no casinos, 3) not enough hotel rooms and 4) no strip joints. At least that’s what seems to be the general consensus of those who are in Detroit this week. It is Detroit after all.