buses · hotels · introductions · transportation

Where to Stay? How to Get Around?

These will be the big logistical/budget questions for a lot of teams.  They have a huge impact on the lodging cost and on the needed transportation once you are in the Detroit area.

We think the setup in Detroit is somewhat similar to what teams have seen before in St. Louis.  An airport several miles from the downtown, but a relatively small number of hotels in the downtown area near the competition venues.  Another factor which will affect a lot of teams is that there is no public mass transit from the airport to the downtown area.  We think these factors will cause many teams to go for the option of renting a motorcoach or bus to get to/from the airport, to/from a non-downtown hotel, and to/from the competition venue.

Prediction: Motorcoaches and rental vans will be a hot commodity in Michigan in late April 2018.

Prediction: The clusters of hotels at the many nice areas in the near suburbs of Metro Detroit will be verry popular in late April 2018.

Prediction: This .PDF map will come in handy.  It shows downtown parking areas, Cobo Center, Ford Field, the GM Renaissance Center, and the People Mover route.  NOTE: Cobo Center entrance is shown but not labeled on this map – look for People Mover Cobo Center Station, which is labeled 11 on the map.  Our suggestion is to give everyone on your team this map, write COBO near station 11, and use it to plan where and when to meet.  Note: this map does not yet have the QLine on it.

We know that sometime later in the year, FIRST will release the Championship housing information for 2018.  For reference, here is what they said for the 2017 (not 2018) season about housing:  FIRST blog from December 2016.

Below is a list of possible hotel areas that might be good choices for teams.  These are where we would think of staying.  Each of these areas offers multiple good hotels, good amenities in the immediate area, and good access to routes to downtown (or in the case of downtown, walking distance to the venues).  We will have more details on all of these in upcoming posts.

Livonia:  I-275 & 6 Mile Rd   (24 miles from Cobo Center)

Livonia:  I-275 & 7 Mile Rd   (25 miles from Cobo Center)

Northville:  I-275 & 8 Mile Rd   (26 miles from Cobo Center)

Downtown   (walking distance to Cobo Center)

Dearborn   (12 miles from Cobo Center)

Livonia:  I-96 Exit 177  (17 miles from Cobo Center)

Canton:  I-275 & Ford Rd   (28 miles from Cobo Center)

Novi:  I-96 Exit #162   (32 miles from Cobo Center)

Wixom:  I-96 Exit #159   (35 miles from Cobo Center)

Farmington Hills:  I-696 & I-275 intersection area  (29 miles from Cobo Center)

Southfield:  I-696 & M10 freeway (20 miles from Cobo Center)

Belleville:  I-94 Exit #190   (28 miles from Cobo Center)

Farmington:  Grand River & 10Mile Rd   (28 miles from Cobo Center)

Roseville (East Side):  I-94 Exit #232   (20 miles from Cobo Center)

Warren:  12Mile Rd & Van Dyke  (19 miles from Cobo Center)

Windsor, Canada:  downtown Windsor (4 km from Cobo Center, but … in a different country!)

Madison Heights:  I-75 Exit 65   (17 miles from Cobo Center)

Troy:  I-75 Exit 69   (21 miles from Cobo Center)

Auburn Hills:  I-75 Exits #78 and #79   (30 miles from Cobo Center)

We are not suggesting that these are the only choices.  Certainly there are more choices.  We are just trying to identify areas that we think will be complementary to the Detroit FIRST experience for teams.


What did we miss?

Hope you had a great time at the 2018 Detroit Championships!

Quick update, some initial train-of-thought items….



There was a killing in Detroit.  The killers were FIRST and the City of Detroit.  The victims were our appetites for good food!   They fed us like the champions we are!  Thanks for doing such a great job!  Best lunch venue in FRC history with lots of choices, staged lunches, little waiting, flexible rules, and an exotic view on the riverfront (we’re looking at you Canada)!



Wish we had known there would be complaints about bathrooms.  Pro tip:  Use the bathrooms that are meant for the general public, not the ones that are there for the workers.  We suspect that many of the bathroom complaints came from people who dont like to stray from the pits.  Our suggestion would have been to walk out of the main hall, cross the walkway to the east side of the big atrium area, and walk into the palatial (seriously, they are nice, and big) restrooms.  We visited a number of times, and they were never crowded.  The walk was not that long.  Hope this relieves some people’s concerns next year.


Load-In and Load-Out

Wow was it clogged.  One way in, and one way out.  Every third vehicle was a motorcoach which spent a long time parking, opening up the cargo bay, rearranging stuff underneath, loading/unloading, rearranging more stuff, closing things up, getting people on and off the bus, and then moving slowly on its way.  Our advice:  dont let the motorcoaches in the back door!  They are not load-in / load-out friendly.  They should use the front door, and each of the 40 people riding the bus can take an item out of the bay and carry it.  The teams who had a truck+trailer were much quicker at loading and unloading.  Hopefully next year there will be some better thought and guidance for motorcoach teams vs. truck & trailer teams vs. the dreaded motorcoach & trailer teams.


We will update more!  Thank you for reading!



Where Do the Hipsters Eat?

Well, we don’t know for sure.  But, we have seen people who we think are hipsters at these locations:

Selden Standard, 3921 Second Ave, Detroit, MI, 48201.  (313)438-5055.  Brunch is awesome here.  Drive here, or take the Q Line to the Canfield station.

HopCat, 4265 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.  (313)769-8828.  Huge beer selection.  Huge.  Drive here, or take the Q Line to the Canfield station.

Gold Cash Gold, 2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, 48216.  (313)242-0770.  It’s in a former pawn shop, serving creative locally-sourced food.  Drive here.  Parking is sketchy.

If you are an actual hipster, and would like to set us straight, please shoot us an email :).

activities · introductions

Hey Sports Fans!

Today, just up the street from Ford Field and Comerica Park, the Ilitch organization cut the ribbon on Little Caesers Arena.  This is where the Red Wings and Pistons are going to be playing.  So that means Detroit is the only city anywhere that has the four professional major sports teams within 4 blocks of each other!  Pretty cool!

So, can we say that Detroit is the only city to have the five most inspirational sports within 4 blocks of each other?  Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and FIRST!!

Good thing they moved the Championship to Detroit – might not be able to get in to this great set of venues at some later date!

Go Red Wings and Pistons!

[update Dec 7, 2017]  We hear that there is an effort to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in Detroit.  Supposedly four cities (including Detroit) are still in the running, and MLS will be deciding by the end of the year.  MLS likes for teams to have their own stadiums, but we understand that the Detroit proposal that went forward had Ford Field as the venue.  This matters to FRC because apparently the MLS season starts in the spring (which we all know is FRC competition season too!).  Thats one more thing on the calendar to look out for…



Michigan DNR Adventure Center

Here is a very good activity idea for your team, if your students are interested in nature and outdoor activities including canoeing, hiking, fishing, and hunting.  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has an Adventure Center located in downtown Detroit, just off the Riverwalk and next to William G. Milliken State Park.  It is 0.8 miles from the RenCen to the Outdoor Adventure Center.

The Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center offers indoor activities which highlight the many natural and recreational activities that us Michiganders love.

Youtube link showing what the OAC is all about.

Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, 1801 Atwater St, Detroit, MI, 48207.  (844)622-6367.  Open Wednesday thru Friday, 10am-3pm.  Saturday 10am-5pm.  Sunday 12-5pm.



Downtown Pharmacies

We know of three pharmacies in the downtown area within walking distance of the FIRST venues:

CVS Pharmacy, 1037 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI, 48226.   (313)963-1007.   Open weekdays 9am-6pm, Saturday 10am-2pm, closed on Sunday.  6 blocks from Cobo Center.  10 blocks from Ford Field.

CVS Pharmacy in the RenCen, Tower 200, 200 Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI, 48243.   (313)567-3523.   Open weekdays 9am-6pm, Saturday 10am-2pm, closed on Sunday.  11 blocks from Cobo Center.  15 blocks from Ford Field.

Griswold Pharmacy, 1411 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI, 48226.   (313)237-9000.   Open weekdays from 9am-6pm, Saturday 10am-2pm, closed on Sunday.  6 blocks from Cobo Center.  8 blocks from Ford Field.


Within a couple miles are two CVS stores that are open every day (weekdays 8am-9pm, weekends 10am-6pm):

The first is located up by Wayne State University, which is a little over 2 miles away from Cobo Center.  Go up Woodward Ave until Warren Ave, then take a right on E Warren Ave.  It is in the next 2 blocks.  CVS Pharmacy, 350 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI, 48202.   (313)833-0201.

The second is located on the east side of downtown, about a mile and a half from Cobo Center.  Drive east down Jefferson Avenue.  CVS Pharmacy, 3200 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI, 48207.   (313)396-5481.



Hotels: Dearborn

There is a large number of hotels in Dearborn, which is approximately 12 miles from Cobo Center.  Also plenty of restaurants and shopping.  Amenities range from very high end to fairly low end, so pay attention to your choices.

There are some world-class tours and museums in Dearborn.  If your team is planning to do something at The Henry Ford or at Greenfield Village, or the Rouge Factory Tour, this area will be very convenient for those activities.

There is an IMAX theater here also.

One new restaurant that would be great for large groups is Ford’s Garage, 21367 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124.  (313)752-3673


Some of the hotels in this area:

Hampton Inn, 22324 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124

Comfort Inn near Greenfield Village, 20061 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124

Edward Hotel & Convention Center, 600 Town Center Dr, Dearborn, MI, 48126

The Henry Hotel, 300 Town Center Dr, Dearborn, MI, 48126   (very fancy place)

The Dearborn Inn, 20301 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI, 48124  (very fancy place)

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dearborn/Detroit, 5777 Southfield Freeway, Detroit, MI, 48228  (this is in the city of Detroit, but it is not downtown – it is on the border with Dearborn)

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Detroit – Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Expressway, Detroit, MI, 48228  (this is in the city of Detroit, but it is not downtown – it is on the border with Dearborn)


A bit off the freeways, and with fewer amenities, are these relatively new hotels that will likely be a bit cheaper (although the area is not quite as nice):

Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Dearborn SW – Detroit Area, 24041 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124

Country Inn & Suites – Dearborn, 24555 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124

Staybridge Suites – Dearborn, 24105 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, 48124


Not in Dearborn – its actually in Taylor – a bit further south, and actually in a pretty sweet location for driving in to Cobo, is a Comfort Inn near the intersection of I-94 and Telegraph Rd. (which is a major north-south road).  Some amenities around here, but not as nice as Dearborn proper.  Comfort Inn & Suites, 6778 S. Telegraph Rd, Taylor, MI, 48180.