hotels · transportation

Downtown Detroit Hotels

Here is a list of downtown Detroit Hotels within walking distance to Cobo Center and Ford Field:

Detroit Foundation Hotel  – this is a brand new historical boutique hotel in the old fire station, so it will not be on a lot of people’s radar yet – but it should definitely be on your radar if proximity to Cobo is your top priority.  250 W Larned St, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)915-4422.

The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit  – this place is niiice, great location, fancy historical hotel.  If we had an Escalade, we would stay here.  If we were Simbotics, we would have no choice but to stay here.  1114 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)442-1600.

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center  – high rise, down the street from Cobo, on the river, part of a huge complex called the RenCen which includes GM Headquarters, shops, restaurants, the GM Wintergarden, has a big food court (think lunchtime workers grabbing a bite), near the Riverwalk.  400 Renaissance Dr, GM Renaissance Center, 48243.  (313)568-8000.

Crowne Plaza Detroit  – right near Cobo.  2 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)965-0200.

Courtyard by Marriott Detroit Downtown  – good proximity to Cobo and Ford Field, across the street from the RenCen, Detroiters may call this Millender Center since that’s its old name.  333 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI, 48226.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Detroit Downtown  – nice location a bit closer to Ford Field (~~10 blocks), but still only two and a half blocks from Cobo.  Might be the best value there is if you are staying downtown.  1020 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)887-7000.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Detroit Downtown – Fort Shelby  – for sure the longest name, but still close to Cobo and maybe 15 blocks to Ford Field.  Are Swartdogs coming to Detroit or do they go to Houston?  525 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)963-5600.

Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney  – very very good location between Cobo and Ford Field.  1 Park Ave, Detroit MI, 48226.  (313)237-1700.

Atheneum Suite Hotel  – in Greektown, so the walk to Cobo is maybe 12 blocks, but only 8 blocks from Ford Field.  Could take the People Mover to get to/from Cobo.  1000 Brush St, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)962-2323.

Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Downtown  – between Ford Field and Greektown, about 12 blocks from Cobo.  Could take the People Mover to get to/from Cobo.  351 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI, 48226.  (313)967-0900.

Coming in Fall 2018 (so in time for the 2019 Championship), The Shinola Hotel, a boutique hotel at 1400 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI, 48226.  NOT OPEN during the 2018 Championship.  Will be a great spot near Ford Field for the 2019 Championship.

For all of these places, your team will need to understand the cost and logistics for parking, since they are right downtown.  There are a ton of private parking lots downtown, and we suggest that they will be the most cost-competitive – but perhaps not as convenient as the recommended hotel parking (which can run as high as $30 per night).

The Detroit Riverwalk, with GM Renaissance Center and Ambassador Bridge in the background.  This is 5 blocks from the Ren Cen, and 10 blocks from Cobo Center.
hotels · transportation

What are the Canadians going to do?

Kind of a general question, we know.  They’ll be polite, offer friendly and helpful advice, patiently wait for others to finish talking, tell a funny story aboot how 1114 and 2056 are so helpful but so good, …

No.  We mean what are the Canadian FIRST teams going to do to make their Detroit experience better?

If you did not know, Canada is right across the river from Detroit.  That’s right, Journey fans – South Detroit is actually Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  The Holiday Inn Windsor Downtown is only 4 km from Cobo Center!

Which brings us to an interesting idea….. would it make sense for teams to stay in Windsor while they are competing at the Detroit Championship?

Well, you do have to cross an international border.  Security checkpoints, passports, a tunnel under the river, tools and equipment on board, does everyone behave while crossing, tunnel traffic, etc, etc.  Not sure if this is doable or not.

But its something to think about…

[edit] What if FIRST Canada rented a ferry?  They could make one trip at 4am to get 610, 1114, and 2056 across the river, then another trip at 7am for the rest of the teams…




The brand new QLine

So Detroit just unveiled a new public transit system that runs in the Woodward Avenue corridor for approximately 3 miles.  This is a brand new system, and it should not be confused with the People Mover system, which has been around for years (more on the People Mover in another post).

A Q Line railcar driving up Woodward Avenue just north of Comerica Park

The QLine could possibly be a good way to move people from Cobo to Ford Field.  Not sure what the capacity is.  It has only been running for a few days so we are sure they are working out the bugs….

The southernmost stop of the QLine is at the intersection of Larned and Woodward Streets.  This stop is called the “Congress Station.”  This is approximately three-and-a-half blocks from the Cobo Hall entrance.

Looking north up Woodward Ave from Jefferson Ave – you can see the People Mover elevated rail system passing through.  The Q Line station is just north of here.  This is 3 blocks from Cobo Center.

Two stops north of the Congress Station is the “Grand Circus Station.”  This is at the south end of Grand Circus Park, which – we are guessing here – will be a hub of activity during the Detroit Championship weekend.  This is five blocks from the entrance to Ford Field.  This is where teams might get off if they are transiting from Cobo to Ford Field.

The northernmost stop on the QLine is at “Grand Station” which is at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and West Grand Boulevard.  This area is referred to as the “New Center” area.  Probably not a huge amount of activity for teams up there, but probably a good solution for parking for many people.

[update Dec 7, 2017]  One significant drawback of the QLine as it is now is throughput.  Its pretty low.  If your team is large, it’ll take multiple cars.  And it seems like the cars are not coming that often…. maybe every 15 min?

While we were researching the QLine, we realized that one stop south of the Grand Station Stop is a stop at the AMTRAK station.  Hmmmm.  More on this in a future post.

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.