Detroit is gearing up as the MLS comes close to revealing key expansion details, but the site for a stadium remains in question.
Detroit’s pursuit of an MLS franchise is notable for several reasons. It is backed by major players, as Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores are leading the push for a team and a new stadium on Gratiot near Interestate 375. At that site, the stadium would serve as something of a gateway and potential development catalyst in downtown Detroit, which has a bustling sports scene that is soon to be added to with the opening of Little Caesars Arena next fall.
In November, Gilbert indicated that a forthcoming study will address several key questions about the initiative. Meanwhile, the MLS is expected to unveil details about its expansion process on Thursday afternoon.
With those elements coming to a head, one question major question in Detroit that remains is the stadium site. Wayne County had previously intended to use the parcel on Gratiot for a prison. Ground was broken for the prison in 2011, but construction was stopped in 2013 because of budget concerns, and has never resumed.
County officials intend to resume construction on the prison, but have advised that if the MLS effort is to take off, it must make a move on the site before a request for proposal (RFP) is issued for jail construction. More from The Detroit News:
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans has said in the past that the county would be receptive to an offer if it is reasonable and made before the county issues a request for proposals to complete the jail, which is expected to be issued soon.
“There’s been no shortage of speculation about this project, but we’re continuing to move forward with the Gratiot site,” Evans said in a written statement last month. “Once we issue the RFP, we’re not looking back. It’ll be full speed ahead on the Gratiot site.”
Matt Cullen, president and CEO of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures, said that the group has commissioned a study being done by the firm HOK that will outline the costs of building the jail at the current Gratiot site or somewhere else. The study will be provided to Wayne County Executive Evans soon, Cullen said.
Kevin Grigg, head of communications at Gore’s Palace Sports and Entertainment, said Gores will wait until details of the MLS board are released to make any comment.
Detroit has some of the pieces in place to make a serious MLS push, but the stadium site is something that backers will hope to pin down sooner rather than later.
Images courtesy Rosetti.
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