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…



Send Us Your Ideas

Hey, people from Detroit and Michigan and Windsor, Canada!

We know you probably don’t need the info in this blog as much as the other people coming from outside of Michigan will, but we suspect that you might be able to help get out the word about good ideas for the visitors to Detroit in 2018 for the FIRST Championship.

So, if you have any ideas for transportation, hotels, restaurants, team activities, etc. that you want to pass on, please drop us a line at unoffDC (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you have any corrections or additions that you think we should make to this site, please let us know!


Some specific questions we would love for you to answer:

What bus companies do you use?

What favorite restaurants in the Detroit area does your team go to as a team?

What activities in the Detroit area have you done as a team that you can recommend for next April?

Thank you!



What We Know (Unofficial of course)

For official information, go to the FIRST website at  [update Dec 7, 2017] Housing is officially open!

Date:  April 25-28, 2018 (the weekend after the Houston Championship)

Venues:  Cobo Center (a large convention center in downtown Detroit, which hosts very large events like the North American International Auto Show, and the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress) and Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions NFL team)

All four levels of FIRST activity (Jr. FLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC) will compete.

Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be at Ford Field.

We presume that qualifying and division activities will be at Cobo Center.  What this reminds us of is how qualifying worked at St. Louis in 2011 or Houston in 2017, where the division fields were nearer to the pit area, rather than in the NFL arena.

Host Committee:   according to a kickoff speech at the Detroit auto show in January 2017, the Host Committee chairs are Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

Future years:  The Houston/Detroit alignment will continue through 2020.  So it looks like we are in Detroit for at least 3 years.

Cobo Center parking info

Ford Field info        The Unofficial Best Map of Downtown



OK, so Detroit

We were very excited when FIRST decided to bring the Championship to the Motor City.  Have to say we were not surprised when a bunch of people not from here were not enthusiastic, or even complained about it.  We know, the city has gotten a bad reputation, sometimes deserved.


Well, we think you are gonna be impressed with this place.

The downtown area is undergoing has undergone a pretty massive amount of development, and the FIRST Championship is going to benefit.  The number of restaurants in the area has exploded, and the quality of the restaurants is great, albeit a little pricey at some of ’em.  There is a new light rail system called the QLine, that will pass right near the Ford Field area (where Einstein and closing ceremonies will be), and will stop at about 3 blocks from the entrance to Cobo Center (where divisions and the pits will be).  The existing People Mover elevated rail system also will be helpful for many people getting around in the downtown area.  The Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park areas (which are between Cobo Center and Ford Field) often have street events and other public-friendly activities going on, and we are guessing they will be popular during the Championship.

Is it safe to walk around?  Yes.  Especially in the areas where we will be for FIRST activities.  It is like any big city anywhere, there are developed areas with lots of people, and there are areas where you should probably not go unless you know where you are going.  Be aware of your surroundings, plan where you are going, and you will have no problems.  Just like you would in St. Louis, or Houston, or Atlanta, or Disneywo

So what are you gonna not like?  Well, the city is large in terms of area, and getting from one side of town to the other is several miles.  Don’t underestimate the challenge your team will have to cover the distance from the airport to downtown, or from your hotel (which we think for many teams will be in a near suburb) to downtown, or from one of your chosen activities (dinner, bowling, museums, etc.) to your hotel.  Don’t expect that public transportation will be a good solution for you.  Don’t expect to find a hardware store downtown.

We will leave you with this thought:  Detroit is a can-do kind of place.  You have seen it in our FIRST teams.  You have seen it in our FIRST volunteers.  We think you will see it next April!  🙂


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.


Here We Go! Detroit Champs!!

Welcome to the Unofficial Detroit Champs blog!  It is our goal to inform FIRST teams about the Detroit area so that they can plan their travel and stay in the Detroit area for the 2018 FIRST Championship.

We are experienced FIRSTers who live in the Detroit area.  We want you to have a great time here.

This site is unofficial, and is not associated with FIRST.  We dont have any financial interest in any of the businesses mentioned on this blog.  Its just our well-intended opinions.  Keep in mind that because we are not connected to FIRST, we do not have any insider or advanced knowledge about the competition venues, schedule, etc.  We read the public info just like you do.

To find out more about FIRST, go to