ESPN X Games bid effort from Detroit group prepares for next phase of plan: city-wide engagement

Posted on April 24, 2013

DETROIT, MI – The bid effort to get the ESPN X games in Detroit for a three-year span keeps gaining gaining steam after a successful weekend embraced extreme sports in the city and raised money for the cause.

Now organizers are hard at work for the next phase: sell downtown Detroit this spring as an X Games destination when ESPN officials likely visit this area in May or June to evaluate what the Motor City has to offer.

“The goal of the site visit is to give ESPN the most authentic feel of what the X Games would be like in Detroit,” said Kevin Krease, a 27-year-old Detroit native that’s part of the effort. “Our motto is to ‘make it so ESPN can’t say no.’ Want to make this opportunity so attractive that they can’t walk away from it.”

Krease, along with 26-year-old Garret Koehler, another Detroit resident, helped spearhead the ESPN X Games Detroit bid early on and have been encouraged by the high-profile support its received since the April 2 bid was submitted.

If awarded the bid, Detroit would host the games from 2014-16. ESPN is expected to announce the host city on Aug. 1. You can watch the video promotion an ESPN X Games bid for Detroit at the end of this post.

Quicken Loans chairman and founder Dan Gilbert and the Ford Motor Co. are two major supporters who are eager to see parts of the city like Ford Field, Hart Plaza, Belle Isle, Campus Martius Park and other spots used for the X Games.

Gilbert gave the X Games Detroit bid group his support in a letter that Krease and Koehler received the day the bid and corresponding video for the games was submitted to ESPN. Krease said Gilbert has expressed interest in being a X Games Detroit Host Committee chair and made it clear he’s focused on winning the bid.

“He doesn’t really lose; that’s how billionaires operate,” Krease said.

ESPN X Games bid organizers hosted a party over the weekend in Eastern Market that generated support for the effort, brought awareness to extreme sports like skating, explained the bidding process, screened a promotional video, and helped raise more than $26,000 for a skate park project in the city’s Corktown neighborhood.

Krease said the group has plans for more events in the coming months to drum up interest and raise money for the X Games push and isn’t relaying on the cash-strapped city of Detroit for financial support.

Krease declined to say how much would be needed to help fund an X Games bid, but claimed published reports that say $7 million is needed aren’t accurate.

“The city needs to do what the city does: they need to give us permits (for the effort),” Krease said. “But we’re responsible for building out plans, and so far, the city has been cooperative. The city doesn’t have to invest any money, and we wouldn’t expect it to.”

X Games bid organizers in Detroit are focused on having the events downtown, but want to do more in the coming months to reach out to fans throughout the city.

“We’ll be doing different things to get the city involved,” Krease said. “We want to connect with the neighborhoods; that’s important.”

One key extreme sports figure that could help Detroit get the ESPN X games bid is pro skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

His Tony Hawk Foundation recently awarded a $30,000 grant to Ride It Sculpture Park on Detroit’s east side and has stayed on top of the X Games to Detroit news.

“We want to connect with because he’s married to a Detroit girl,” Krease said. “We think he’s be supportive of an X Games effort in Detroit.”

Are you supportive of the X Games effort in Detroit? Let us know in our comments section. Below is a look at a video submitted to ESPN for the bid.

Eric Lacy,