Under new rules, the Spirit of Detroit will be showing a lot less team spirit


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The Spirit of Detroit statue looks like it'll be showing a lot less team spirit in the years to come.

The authority charged with managing the statue and the city-county building before which it sits has established a new set of rules for putting a jersey on the bronze sculpture: You have to be a winner, and you have to pay up.

Yes, only teams that win a national championship will be able eligible to display their jersey on the big guy, which likely rules out every Detroit sports team for the foreseeable future. And even if the team does win — it's ownership has to pay $25,000 to dress up the Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority-owned statue.

Why? Apparently, it costs big bucks to restore the statue after a jersey has had its way with it.

"Any time we've put a jersey on the spirit, we have to go back and clean the piece, reapply the patina and reapply the wax, and that's $5,000 to $6,000 every time we do that," says DWJBA executive director Greg McDuffee. "There's also a concern [over damage] when companies are removing and installing the jersey."

Until the new rules were established by the DWJBA's three-member board of commissioners this month, it cost businesses, nonprofits, and teams $6,500 to put a top on the statue. McDuffee says the Spirit donned a shirt 23 times since the tradition began in 1997.

But amid Detroit's comeback, the DWJBA has seen an uptick in requests. In the three months in which the authority's commissioners were deciding how to amend the rules, there were five requests made to decorate the statue.

"The causes have been varied and increasing in numbers," says McDuffee, noting the Spirit has donned everything from sportswear to United Way and Rotary club swag. "It was going to be a real challenge to manage, and the likelihood of damage [was too risky] — last time it was appraised, it was going cost $6 million to repair any significant damage."

The Spirit of Detroit was last restored in 2008 for $160,000. It was placed in 1958.

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