Study Released on Detroit MLS Stadium Proposal

Proposed Detroit MLS stadium

A new study by the University of Michigan says the proposal to build an MLS stadium on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit would create nearly $2.4 billion in new development. However, some are not convinced the study adequately makes the case for a new stadium at that site. 

As proposed by Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, a new soccer stadium and related development would be constructed on Gratiot Avenue to host an MLS expansion franchise. The specific site is currently occupied by an unfinished penitentiary, and Wayne County has sought to resume that project.

The study, which was commissioned by Gilbert’s Rock Ventures and conducted by the Center for Sport & Policy at the University of Michigan, claims that the stadium and related projects would create about $2.39 billion in new development at the Gratiot Avenue site. The study also found that resuming construction of the jail at that same location would produce an economic impact of $352 million.

This comes after Rock Ventures proposed shifting construction of the penitentiary on East Forest Avenue, where it would be completed as part of a criminal justice complex. The study, however, comes up short in making a full-fledged case for Wayne County to accept that proposal, according to county executive Warren Evans. Rock Ventures, however, said that the study is a key part of the ongoing process. More from The Detroit Free Press:

“This study does nothing to sway my thinking,” Evans said in a statement released shortly after Rock Ventures released the study. “My standard for Rock’s proposal has been absolutely clear: Is Rock prepared to build the county a criminal justice complex in a timely fashion, with buildings that meet our needs, at a price Wayne County can afford? If they can’t meet that standard, everything else is irrelevant. This study moves us no closer to answering that fundamental question.”

That’s not how Gilbert’s team saw it, however.

“This study is a continuation of our efforts to provide the county and other stakeholders with the necessary analysis and information to fully evaluate the proposal we submitted on Feb. 6,” said Matt Cullen, principal of Rock Ventures. “The Gratiot site is a critical gateway to downtown Detroit, and we are excited about the opportunities a project of this scale and quality would provide for our entire community. This development will be a real catalyst for the city and county, and we need to make sure we get it right.”

Cullen added, “While we are excited about the impact this project would have, we are still very focused on the county executive’s direction that we need to deliver an effective, cost-efficient solution for the criminal justice complex.”

Detroit is one of 12 cities in the mix for an expansion franchise, with the proposal from Gilbert and Gores being one of the key components of its bid. As part of the offer from Rock Ventures, a new criminal justice complex would be constructed for $300 million from the county, plus the land needed for the stadium project and an operational savings credit.

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August Publications