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Sports in Detroit facts for kids

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Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions 2018 03
Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions

Detroit is home to four professional U.S. sports teams; it is one of twelve cities in the United States to have teams from the four major North American sports. Since 2017, it is the only U.S. city to have its MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams play within its downtown district (broadly defined) and one of only four U.S. cities to have said teams play within the city limits of their namesake.

All four teams compete within the city of Detroit. There are three active major sports venues within the city: 41,782-seat Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), 65,000-seat Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions), and Little Caesars Arena (home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons). Detroit is known for its avid hockey fans. Interest in the sport has given the city the moniker "Hockeytown." In 2008, the Tigers reported 3.2 million visitors with a 98.6 percent attendance rate.

In college sports, the University of Detroit Mercy has an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I program. Wayne State University has a Division II program, and once had Division I teams in men's and women's ice hockey but has since dropped both sports. The NCAA football Quick Lane Bowl is held at Ford Field each December.


Annual Gold Cup Polo tournament - held at Word of Faith in Southfield.
Tigers opening day2 2007
Comerica Park 2007
Ford Field next to Comerica Park.

Detroit has bid to host Summer Olympic Games more often than any other city which has not yet hosted, participating in International Olympic Committee elections for the 1944 (placing 3rd, behind bid winner London), 1952 (5th place), 1956 (4th place), 1960 (3rd place), 1964 (2nd place), 1968 (2nd place) and 1972 (4th place) Games.

Oakland Hills Country Club, located in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, has hosted numerous high-profile golf events. It has hosted the U.S. Open six times, most recently in 1996; the PGA Championship three times, most recently in 2008; the U.S. Senior Open in 1981 and 1991; the U.S. Amateur in 2002; and the Ryder Cup in 2004.

The Detroit Marathon is also organized annually in the city, usually held in October.

Detroit is home to the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. The race took place on the streets of downtown Detroit from 1982 until 1988, and then from 1989 (when the sanction moved from Formula One to IndyCars) at Belle Isle until now. The race was not held from 2002−2006.

The Virginia Slims of Detroit was a WTA Tour women's tennis tournament held from 1972 to 1983, which featured top ranked players such as Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

The UFC 9 mixed martial arts event was held at Cobo Arena in 1996 and UFC 123 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2010.

The Professional Bowlers Association Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour holds the Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes in the suburb of Taylor.

The suburb of Southfield hosts the annual Gold Cup Polo tournament at Word of Faith International Christian Center, formerly known as Duns Scotus College.

The city hosted the Red Bull Air Race in 2008 on the International Riverfront.

Water sports

Sailboat racing is a major sport in the Detroit area. Lake Saint Clair is home to many yacht clubs which host regattas. Bayview Yacht Club, the Detroit Yacht Club, Crescent Sail Yacht Club, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, The Windsor Yacht Club, and the Edison Boat Club each participate in and are governed by the Detroit Regional Yacht-Racing Association or DRYA. Detroit is home to many One-Design fleets including North American 40s, Cal 25s, Cuthbertson and Cassian 35s, Crescent Sailboats, Express 27s, J 120s, J 105, and Flying Scots. The Crescent Sailboat, NA-40, and the L boat were designed and built exclusively in Detroit. Detroit also has a very active and competitive junior sailing program.

Since 1904, the city has been home to the American Power Boat Association Gold Cup unlimited hydroplane boat race, held annually on the Detroit River near Belle Isle. Since 1916, the city has been home to Unlimited Hydroplane racing, held annually (with exceptions) on the Detroit River near Belle Isle. Often, the hydroplane boat race is for the APBA Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the Gold Cup (first awarded in 1904, created by Tiffany) which is the oldest active motorsport trophy in the world.

Former teams

Club League Venue Founded Ended Fate of team Titles in
Detroit Wolverines National League Baseball Recreation Park 1881 1888 Team folded 1
Detroit Lightning MISL Cobo Arena 1979 1980 Team folded 0
Detroit Drive AFL Arena Football Joe Louis Arena 1988 1993 Team folded 4
Detroit Turbos MILL Indoor Lacrosse Joe Louis Arena 1989 1994 Team folded 1
Detroit Rockers NPSL Indoor Soccer Joe Louis Arena/
Compuware Arena/
The Palace of Auburn Hills
1990 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Neon/Safari CISL Indoor Soccer The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 1997 Team folded 0
Detroit Vipers IHL Hockey The Palace of Auburn Hills 1994 2001 Team and League folded 1
Detroit Fury AFL Arena Football The Palace of Auburn Hills 2001 2004 Team folded 0
Detroit Ignition MISL/XSL Indoor Soccer Compuware Arena 2006 2009 League folded 1
Detroit Cougars NASL Soccer * Tiger Stadium 1968 1968 Team folded 0
Detroit Express NASL Soccer Pontiac Silverdome 1978 1981 Washington Diplomats 0
Detroit Express ASL Soccer Pontiac Silverdome 1981 1984 League folded 1
Detroit Shock WNBA Basketball The Palace of Auburn Hills 1998 2009 Relocated to Tulsa as the Tulsa Shock; relocated again in 2016 as the Dallas Wings 3
Detroit Demolition WPF Football Livonia Franklin High School 2002 2011 Suspended play 5
Michigan Panthers USFL Football Pontiac Silverdome 1983 1984 Merged with the Oakland Invaders 1

* In 1967, Detroit was selected as one of the cities to adopt a European professional soccer club in a bid to promote the game Stateside. The event was planned to coincide with Europe's off/close season when the teams would have otherwise been dormant for the summer. Detroit was represented by the Northern Irish team Glentoran, playing as the Detroit Cougars.


College sports

The following table shows the NCAA Division I and Division II college sports programs in the metro Detroit area:

Team Division Conference Venue Location
Michigan Wolverines Division I (FBS) Big Ten Conference various, including Michigan Stadium and Crisler Center Ann Arbor
Michigan State Spartans Division I (FBS) Big Ten Conference various, including Spartan Stadium, Breslin Student Events Center, and Munn Ice Arena East Lansing
Eastern Michigan Eagles Division I (FBS) Mid-American Conference various, including Rynearson Stadium
and EMU Convocation Center
Detroit Mercy Titans Division I Horizon League various, including Calihan Hall Detroit
Oakland Golden Grizzlies Division I Horizon League various, including Athletics Center O'rena Rochester
Wayne State Warriors Division II Great Lakes various Detroit

There are also numerous small college athletic programs in the Detroit Metro area.

School Team Division Conference City
Adrian College Adrian Bulldogs Division III Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Adrian
Cleary University Cleary Cougars NAIA Independent Howell
Concordia University Concordia Cardinals NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Ann Arbor
University of Michigan–Dearborn UM-Dearborn Wolverines NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Dearborn
Madonna University Madonna Crusaders NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Livonia
Rochester College Rochester Warriors NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Rochester Hills
Lawrence Technological University Lawrence Tech Blue Devils NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Southfield
Siena Heights University Siena Heights Saints NAIA Wolverine-Hoosier Adrian
Henry Ford College Henry Ford Hawks NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Dearborn
Macomb Community College Macomb Monarchs NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Warren
Oakland Community College Oakland Raiders NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Waterford
St. Clair County Community College St. Clair Skippers NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Port Huron
Schoolcraft College Schoolcraft Ocelots NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Livonia
Wayne County Community College District Wayne County Wildcats NJCAA Michigan Community College Athletic Association Detroit

On December 13, 2003, what was then the largest verified crowd in basketball history (78,129) packed Ford Field to watch the University of Kentucky defeat Michigan State University, 79–74. Ford Field hosted the Final Four of the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

The Frozen Four, the term for the semifinals and final of the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, was held at Ford Field on April 8 and 10, 2010.

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