For MLS backers Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, one of the biggest uncertainties surrounding a proposed stadium in Detroit has been the site. The pair has actively pursued a parcel in Gratiot near Interstate 375, as it offers enough room for a stadium and adjacent development.
This site has long been slated to be used by Wayne County for new jail. Construction on the jail began in 2011, but was stalled in 2013 over budget issues and has not resumed. However, the county has said that it still intends to pursue the project, with county executive Warren Evans going as far as to suggest that other options for the site–including a stadium–will be off the table once an RFP to resume jail construction is issued.
The county is following through on that plan, as Evans revealed that an RFP will be issued on February 10. That would leave Gilbert and Gores with very limited time to pursue the site, and seemingly raises questions about how the bid for an expansion franchise could proceed without this site on the table.
Gores indicated in previous remarks that he and Gilbert could still pursue a franchise without the site, and others believe that the pair will be able to find another location. More from the Detroit Free Press:
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last April that Detroit was not considered for an expansion franchise until Gilbert and Gores proposed a $1-billion investment at the Gratiot site. Garber said he considered the jail site important to Detroit’s bid, though not necessarily a deal-breaker.
Sean Mann, one of the owners of the Detroit City FC, a minor league team that plays in Hamtramck, said the Gilbert-Gores contingent has met with his group a handful of times since April. Mann said he doesn’t think Detroit’s MLS bid hinges on the proposed soccer-specific stadium being built on the failed jail site.
“I think there’s other parcels to be had,” Mann said today in an interview with the Free Press. “They need 10 acres and I think they can find that elsewhere, so I think that gets resolved. As long as they have the finances and the wherewithal to build a stadium, then I think things move along.”
Detroit was named by the MLS in December as one of 10 candidates for an expansion franchise. Applications for the upcoming rounds of expansion are due on January 31.
Images courtesy Rosetti.
RELATED STORIES: Detroit Works to Hone MLS Case; Dan Gilbert Awaiting MLS Detroit Study; Detroit MLS Organizers Open to Other Sites; Detroit MLS Organizers: We’re Ready to Roll; Can Passion for Soccer Scale in Detroit?; Gores, Gilbert Pitch New Detroit MLS Stadium, Expansion Team