Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner Christopher Ilitch expressed approval for the Detroit MLS effort and a plan to build a new stadium downtown, concentrating five professional franchises in a relatively small footprint.
The Ilitch family have always been boosters of downtown Detroit, moving the Tigers to Comerica Park, building Little Caesars Arena and luring the Detroit Pistons (NBA) from the suburbs. (Never mind the family’s other downtown business ventures, which includes the Fox Theater.) On one level, you’d think a shiny new MLS stadium and new MLS team would pose a threat to the ballpark and arena, but it doesn’t sound like Ilitch and crew consider the Detroit MLS effort to be a threat; rather, it is seen as completing the momentum building in Detroit. (Also part of the downtown sports scene: Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.) And, to boot, the comments came when Ilitch was promoting a soccer match at Comerica Park, promoted by Relevent Sports. From the Detroit Free Press:
“Soccer is bigger than ever,” Ilitch said. “As we stand here today we are proud to say that Detroit is the only city in North America that has all four of its major professional sports teams within four blocks of each other in a downtown core. And it would be great to make it five someday.”…
Ilitch called Comerica Park a “community-gathering place” and that’s why it is located in the center of the city. Ilitch said there are more than 100,000 participants in youth soccer in the state.
“Detroit is known as one of, if not, the best sports town in America,” Ilitch said. “I think the growth in the sport of soccer is undeniable worldwide and in the United States. The younger generation loves this sport. I see it with my own three children, who all play soccer. My passion for the sport has grown as I’ve seen it through their eyes and their passion for it.”
As for the Detroit MLS bid, Ilitch said: “I think it would be great for our community and it would be great for Detroit as a sports city. So I’m supportive of that.”
Speaking of the Comerica Park soccer match: it’s part of the International Champions Cup, with Paris Saint-Germain F.C. and AS Roma set to meet on July 19 at 8 p.m.
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