Updated: A press conference including Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert is now scheduled for Wednesday – and there’s confirmed talk by the mayor of a MLS stadium being built downtown. More here.
Speculation is heating up today around the idea that Detroit’s going to get a Major League Soccer team.
Here’s where we’re at right now. Two billionaires with holdings in the area – Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team; and Tom Gores, owner of the Detroit Pistons had a pair of tweets that’s gotten the Detroiternet buzzing.
Hey @TomGores, you know what’s great about sports? One moment you’re rivals & the next day, you can be rooting for the same team…
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) April 26, 2016
Followed up by…
— Tom Gores (@TomGores) April 26, 2016
Then, a Detroit Free Press article pops up citing unnamed sources that in fact Major League Soccer is considering Detroit – and that a brand new stadium would be part of it.
The plan includes building a soccer stadium at a still-to-be-determined site. A person with knowledge of the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly says that the abandoned Wayne County jail site on Gratiot near Greektown is the No. 1 option, although the site remains under county control.
Other possible sites include land near the Detroit riverfront or the Corktown area.
Now, another plot twist – a local semi-pro team in town, Detroit City FC that has a very passionate fan base (we recently wrote about their new store and offices), confirms “initial contact” with “the interested parties” in a statement released on their website.
Detroit City FC has had initial contact with the interested parties regarding the possibility of Major League Soccer in Detroit, and we look forward to carrying on more conversations with those groups as the soccer scene evolves.
We have always believed that for soccer to live up to its full potential in southeast Michigan, a team must be connected to the community and focused on soccer supporter culture. The founding of a professional team is a golden opportunity, but in an already crowded market, success is never guaranteed.
As stewards of the local soccer community, our ownership group will continue to do all that we can to ensure professional soccer in Detroit stays true to the model that the supporters and fans of Detroit City FC have come to expect.
Detroit City FC has proven that a soccer team can be viable and successful in downtown Detroit. We see today’s development as further proof that others around the country are taking notice of our many successes and of the potential of the Detroit market. After 40 years of teams trying to establish a presence downtown with little success, Detroit City FC has shown that, when done right, soccer has a viable future in our city.
The signs are starting to point more and more to “yes” when it comes to Major League Soccer in Detroit – between Gores and Gilbert, that’s a lot of money and power to make that happen.
What do you think – would MLS work here?
There are a lot of options on how this could go down, including but not limited to:
- What about the idea that Gores and Gilbert would just buy in to Detroit City FC?
- Or, possibly, the Michigan Bucks who play at various fields around metro Detroit, owned by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s brother Dan?
- Could they all co-exist?
According to a joint statement from Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert, there’s joint press conference with MLS Commissioner Garber and the two business leaders on Wednesday.
“I’ve always believed a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people,” said Gores in a 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,” Gilbert echoed in the same release. “Bringing a team downtown will also further energize Detroit’s urban core, which is critical to the entire city’s overall health and vibrancy.”
Even Mayor Duggan hopped in the foray.
“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.”
Which leads us to new stadium talk. One of the only sites large enough to build a stadium on within walking distance of Ford Field is the Wayne County fail jail site, that’s been a boondoggle for the county with millions sunk in – or the riverfront. It also rules out Corktown and other neighborhoods.