Having turned in their MLS expansion bid, Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert must now resolve questions surrounding their proposed stadium in Detroit.
Gores and Gilbert have made it known that their preferred site for a stadium is a parcel at Gratiot and St. Antoine, along Interstate 375 in downtown. An unfinished jail currently sits on that site, and Wayne County is set to issue a request for proposal (RFP) on February 10 to complete that project.
Gilbert has indicated that he will make one last run at the site between now and then. However, if the stadium is ultimately not chosen for that site, the effort for a soccer-specific venue in Detroit will have to shift elsewhere in the city if the expansion bid is to be successful.
MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott has said as much, indicating that finalizing the stadium site is a major step that Detroit must complete. While coming to terms on the broad framework of a stadium deal–such as cost, site, and funding–is a must for virtually every city in the expansion mix, Gores and Gilbert will have to quickly figure out their next step if their preferred site is no longer on the table. More from The Detroit Free Press:
“We recognized yesterday, which was the date when expansion applications were due, that not every club or market would have a finalized stadium plan,” Abbott said. “What we ask for at this time is for people to provide us with information about the status of the stadium plan and what their path is for a finalized stadium plan. We can’t select a market without a finalized stadium plan.”
Gilbert and Gores announced in April a plan for a $1-billion development at the jail site, which would include a 23,000-seat soccer stadium. Their group must submit an offer to purchase the location to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans by Feb. 10.
Abbott said MLS doesn’t have a firm date in mind just yet for when Detroit must finalize its stadium plan.
“We know their group is continuing to work on the jail site, and we’ll just have to see how that plays out,” he said. “We don’t know any specifics on that other than we know they continue to work it, and that remains their goal.”
Detroit is one of 12 cities to represented in expansion bids. Applications were submitted to the MLS on Tuesday. Expansion will take place in phases, with teams joining in 2020 and two more joining at a later date.
Images courtesy Rosetti.
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