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Circa owner giving away 2 spots on his plane to NFC championship

Updated January 26, 2024 - 8:36 am

Circa owner Derek Stevens had such a good time at the Detroit Lions’ playoff game last week that he wants to share the experience with his customers.

Two sports bettors will win seats on Stevens’ plane Sunday morning to the Bay Area, where they will attend the NFC championship game between the Lions and 49ers with his group before returning home on the plane.

“No need to pack a bag,” Stevens said at his property Thursday evening. “We’re leaving Sunday morning, and we’ll be back Sunday night. Quick 15-hour trip.”

The two spots in his entourage will be raffled off at 9:15 p.m. during Saturday night’s “Huddle Up at Overhang” pep rally. Participants can earn entries by wearing their favorite NFL team’s gear or by making a minimum $100 wager on a prop bet on the Lions-49ers game at the sportsbook.

The festivities will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday night, though grand prize winners must be present to win Saturday.

Other prizes available include cabanas and daybeds at Stadium Swim, as well as dinner at Barry’s Downtown Prime.

The idea to include fans on the trip to the game stemmed from the journey Stevens and his friends made last week when they boarded a plane in the wee hours of Sunday morning and hung out at his favorite Detroit bar, Nemo’s, before attending the Lions’ divisional playoff win over the Buccaneers.

A group of about 15 swelled to well over a hundred, and Stevens started thinking of ways to include more people in such an experience.

“It was just so much fun, and the energy was amazing,” he said. “So we decided to come up with this idea of chartering a flight, and we kept two extra seats because we’re having this cocktail party on Friday and Saturday night and we want a couple people to be able to experience that.”

There’s no requirement for the grand prize winners to root for the Lions, though they’re certainly the side Stevens will be cheering on.

While it’s not the main factor in his rooting interest, a Lions title would be good for business.

“The way things fell for us, the Lions are the best outcome in the NFC and the Super Bowl at this point (for the sportsbook),” Stevens said. “But I did get a text that there might be a seven-figure bet coming in on the Lions to win it all, so that could change things.”

Even if the Lions become a loser for the book, Stevens will still be a boisterous supporter. The Detroit native, who is still riding high from Michigan’s national title in college football, said the success of the Lions has been a galvanizing event for his hometown.

“My first Lions game was at Tiger Stadium, and I’d only seen one playoff win until this year,” the 56-year-old said. “I’m looking at this and seeing generations of history, just reminding people of these unbelievable emotions. It’s a hardworking blue-collar town where a lot of people still live within 10 miles of where they were born. These are fourth- and fifth-generation fans, so it was really about family that caused all these emotions.”

Stevens said he has seen some national pundits dismissing or even outright mocking images of Lions fans crying after the team defeated Tampa Bay last week, but to him it’s no laughing matter.

“On the outside, you might think it’s weird,” he said. “But the reality is that’s just an outpouring of years of emotions. Every grown man that was crying was crying because they were remembering being 10 years old and his dad took him to the game or he was 6 and watching the game with his grandfather. It’s very raw and real.”

Regardless of how Sunday goes, Stevens believes Las Vegas will be the big winner, as he sees any combination of the four remaining teams as being a boon for business at the Super Bowl. San Francisco and Kansas City fans have proven to travel en masse to Super Bowls, and Stevens said the Baltimore Ravens have a ton of intrigue because of their defense and soon-to-be-MVP for the second time, Lamar Jackson.

He also said the Lions fans will prove to be a dominant force should Detroit actually make the Super Bowl.

“The only reason people don’t know Lions fans travel is because there’s never been a reason to,” he said. “I think Las Vegas has already racked up a victory.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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