Major League Soccer in Detroit has moved one step closer to reality today – as well as a brand-spankin’ new stadium.
Previously we talked about the rumors in the bid to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to Detroit. Now, many things are confirmed.
The efforts, according to a joint statement from the Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert camps, are supported by MLS and its commissioner Don Garber. He recently announced plans to grow the league to 28 teams and identified Detroit as a “market of great interest.”
MLS commissioner Garber will be in Detroit this week and will meet with the potential ownership group to discuss their expansion plan, and a press conference is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Crucially, those plans include the construction of a stadium in downtown Detroit.
“I’ve always believed a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people,” said Gores in the statement. “I’m excited to partner with Dan and help in Detroit’s resurgence. Together we have all the tools we need to make a new team successful.”
“Soccer is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world with a passionate fan base and global reach,” echoed Gilbert. “Bringing a team downtown will also further energize Detroit’s urban core, which is critical to the entire city’s overall health and vibrancy.”
According to Gores and Gilbert, if Detroit is chosen for an MLS expansion team, it would become the most dense urban sports and entertainment district city in America with four major professional sports stadiums within a 10-15 minute walk: Ford Field, Comerica Park, the new Detroit Red Wings arena and the new MLS stadium.
The investment group also indicated, according to the MLS website, that an MLS team would “complement the two lower division minor league soccer teams playing in Detroit.”
No word as of yet if there will be a public funding push for the new soccer stadium. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is on board with the plan, with this separate statement:
“I’ve been pushing for a Major League Soccer team to come to Detroit for some time. The fact that our citywide elementary school soccer league has grown from 600 players last year to more than 900 players this year is an indication of how successful a franchise would be in our city. I look forward to working with anyone who is committed to making the idea of an MLS franchise in Detroit a reality.”
There aren’t many spaces within a 10-15 minute walk of Ford Field that would be able to accommodate a stadium. It rules out just about everywhere but the
Wayne County jail construction site (known by many Detroiters as the “fail jail” as it sits partially built as you come into downtown) [Ed. Note: now categorically denied] or the Detroit riverfront – unless there’s some property up someone’s sleeve, which if you’ve been around Detroit long enough, you should know is always a possibility.
UPDATE: Here’s our guess for that possible location for the new soccer stadium, and how we came up with the theory.