If MLS organizers in Detroit continue their effort to secure an expansion franchise, they may look beyond the location proposed for a new stadium.
Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores have been looking to partner on a stadium and adjacent development in downtown Detroit. The site most frequently discussed in these talks is a location on Gratiot that is currently owned by Wayne County. While the site offers numerous advantages–close proximity to Detroit’s other sports facilities, good exposure to Interstate 375–the problem is acquisition. Wayne County owns the site and has not shown interest in selling the parcel.
The county has long been slated to build a jail on the location; that process has been stalled by financial issues, but the county says it wants to finish the project. Thus far that has looked to be a major obstacle for the MLS proposal, but Gores says the project is not bound to that site. More from the Detroit Free Press:
Gores told the Free Press on Friday about the stadium efforts: “Dan is working on it. We’re not married to (the jail site). What we’re married to is getting another sports team in Detroit.
“We think a soccer franchise in Detroit could be really good, and I think we’re going to get it there one way or another.”
Other factors–including the reportedly rising MLS expansion fee–will be in play for Gilbert and Gores, so Detroit will still have plenty of work to do to join the league. However, if Gores’ comments either indicate a backup plan or make the county rethink its stance, the project would face one less obstacle.
Images courtesy Rosetti.