| Follow Us:


Brush Park BMX
Brush Park BMX - Doug Coombe

X Games Detroit Bid

15 E. Kirby
Apt. 1111
Detroit, Michigan 48202

X Games Detroit Bid

By MJ Galbraith
July 10, 2013

Bringing the X Games to Detroit isn't just about providing Michigan the opportunity to ogle at skateboarders as they risk their necks twisting and tumbling through the air—though Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler are certainly hoping that's exactly what will happen. And impressing ESPN execs and city power brokers is not the goal—though the pair have most assuredly done that with their grassroots efforts, aggressive social media marketing, and relentless work toward delivering the annual ESPN action sport showcase for a three-year contract that would start in 2014.
It's more of an execution of philosophy, of the notion that ideas grand in scale are possible on a street level. The pair champion action, the idea that it never hurts to ask and that no idea is too big. In fact, the bigger the better. Make it so big that people can't say no.
Well, that, and Kevin's also trying to convince his friends to move to Detroit.
"I moved back to Detroit with no friends here," he says. "All my friends lived in other cities; had moved away. None of my high school friends were living here. So for me the big switch was, if I'm going to live in Detroit, I'd love to move my friends here and start making the city what I would want it to be, [the kind of place I would want] to live in and enjoy being in." So he developed the hobby of selling the city to his friends. "I sort of became the most known salesman of Detroit to my own network of people: the Resident Detroiter."
Over time, Kevin amassed a folder with different ideas of how to make an impact on the city. After a conversation with a friend last July, he decided that bringing the X Games to Detroit was the first step. As he began to knock on the doors of city leaders, both public and private sector, Kevin soon developed a very serious and effective bid for the event. His work paid off, drawing friend and fellow Miami University of Ohio alum Garret Koehler from Chicago to Detroit this past January to help him pull off this seemingly impossible feat.
The pair stress that it's not just about the X Games.
"Kevin and I are both passionate about this idea of bridging a gap," said Garret. "One of the things that we've talked a lot about is how do we use the X Games to create access – bi-directional access. How do you give someone like Dan Gilbert access to the people who are making change, building things in Detroit on a very grassroots level within the communities, and how do you give those people access to the kind of capital and institutional support you need to make those things have the impact that they could potentially have?"
The two have been working intensely on their bid over these past six months, pushing Detroit into the top four finalists for the event. ESPN is reportedly just days away from announcing their final decision. As they attended pitch meeting after pitch meeting, they began to see those in the conference rooms realize that what Kevin and Garret were proposing appealed to exactly the types of people that those companies covet, and that Detroit's gritty DIY style is exactly the story the X Games want to tell (even X Games superstar Tony Hawk has voiced his support of hosting the event in Detroit).

Getting the city's help and support was even easier, jumping bureaucratic hurdles that normally take six months in just three weeks. Closing down Campus Martius to pedestrian and automobile traffic to film a promotional video produced by the Work (that has since gone viral) featuring a rally car tooling around the public square was promptly approved by the city and found local businesses like the Fountain Bistro more than willing to alter their business hours for the stunt. If that Chrysler/Eminem commercial gave you chills, you really need to watch this.
"That's what's exciting about Detroit; you get to enlist everyone to feel like they're part of it," says Kevin. "People donate pizza and coffee and whatever to your shoot or your fundraiser because everyone feels like they're a part of moving things forward. And that's special; you don't find that anywhere else in America."
While that kind of sweeping statement is perhaps a bit presumptuous, it takes a bold and daring kind of person to say it; the same kind of bold and daring person who would put together this totally grassroots Detroit-style-DIY effort. 
"I moved here for it," said Garret. "That's why I moved to Detroit. Period. You just don't feel the same sense of intentionality [anywhere else] as you do here – people doing things, living very intentionally. And there's an awareness that everyone else is doing that, too. That intentionality is connected to a sense of place and when you can use those two things for these big visions—I mean, that's just so powerful. The potential is endless."

Photos by Doug Coombe. 

Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts

Twitter Feed

Related Resources