The Detroit Lions, whose roots stretch back to 1930, are one of four NFL teams that have never played in a Super Bowl. (Pop Quiz: Can You Guess the Other Three?) Before this season, the team had Won only one playoff game Since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. So Lions fans were rightfully discouraged when their team won their division for the first time in three decades and broke their playoff drought by defeating the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this month. The team’s playoff run has brought much joy and a boost to local businesses surrounding the team’s stadium, Ford Field.
‘On playoff day, it’s nonstop.’
Buddy’s Pizza, a restaurant in downtown Detroit, was packed Sunday.
“This is really huge for us and a lot of other bars and restaurants in the area,” said Andrew Stanek, manager of the restaurant near Ford Field. “Detroit Lions fans have stuck with their team through thick and thin and throughout all 60 years.”
A few blocks away, at Harry’s Detroit Bar & Grill, a line had formed outside the restaurant and down the sidewalk.
Harry’s assistant general manager Cesar Ramirez said the restaurant had record sales during the Lions’ first playoff win against the Rams.
“We’ve definitely seen a huge increase in our business,” he said, adding that the restaurant made a little more than $60,000 on the day of the team’s first playoff win, which is more than the same period a year ago on a typical day. Earnings are approximately $40,000 more. ,
“Everyone on the schedule wants to work because they know it’s money day,” Mr. Ramirez said.
The Lions’ victory against the Buccaneers on Sunday sent them to their first NFC Championship Game since the 1991 season. While they will face the 49ers in Santa Clara, California this weekend, the bars in Detroit will definitely be filled with Lions fans, hoping that their team can make it to the Super Bowl for the first time and only the Cleveland Browns, May leave Houston. The Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only teams that have not reached the title game.
‘I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.’
Lions fans smiling while waiting to enter Ford Field. For those who could not secure tickets, there was a tailgate near the stadium at Eastern Market, a collection of shops and restaurants in the neighborhood that bears the same name.
Ron Cracchiola, better known as Crackman, was among the tailgate attendees. Mr Cracchiola said he started going to games with his father 60 years ago, and he had seen far more losses than wins but he never lost faith. He said he wishes his father, who died in April at age 95, could have seen the Lions fight for a Super Bowl berth. On Sunday, Mr. Cracchiola wore a necklace bearing his father’s photo.
“For the city, it means a lot; For me, it brings tears to my eyes,” said Mr. Cracchiola, who will turn 72 this week. “It’s still a dream come true. I am still on cloud nine. I sit there and just think: This is really happening. “We’re two games away from the Super Bowl.”
Businesses around Ford Field have benefited from the Lions’ playoff run as well as years of investment in Detroit’s downtown, a part of the city that has attracted particular attention since the city’s bankruptcy a decade ago.
Detroit is huge – 139 square miles – and some neighborhoods, long filled with vacant houses and vacant lots, have seen little change amid the Lions’ successes.
Still, some in Michigan say the team’s record is creating new bonds.
Tiffany and Don Gilling came to Ford Field with their children, Tripp, 9, and Kayden, 12, and a friend, Justin Vidosh, and his 8-year-old son, Parker.
“I think it means a lot to our city – the passion, the fun,” Ms Gilling said. “It’s bringing us closer.”
“My sons — that’s the best part — seeing their kids live through it and just have fun,” Ms. Gilling said. “It’s something they will remember forever. This is a major family memory that we are creating and that is what brings me the most joy.”