Detroit MLS Bid to be Considered by League

Proposed Detroit MLS stadium

Officials behind the Detroit MLS bid are preparing to make their case to the league, and believe the city could add to MLS’ academy system.

The expansion bid out of Detroit, led by Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, appears to have some momentum. Discussions with Wayne County to secure the preferred site of a new stadium are moving forward, and MLS commissioner Don Garber signaled Detroit out for praise in remarks he made about expansion candidates earlier this summer.

One of the key steps that looms for the bid is a presentation to MLS officials that is scheduled for October. Arn Tellum, the vice chairman of Gores’ Detroit Pistons, believes that a few factors that could sway MLS, such as an increasing level of interest in soccer throughout the state and demographics–including a young population–that are suited to the league. Additionally, Tellum believes that an academy in Detroit could help to diversify MLS and the sport as a whole. More from The Detroit Free Press:

“There is a real desire from the MLS to develop players from the inner city, as they try to broaden their game and make it more diverse in the states,” Tellem told the Free Press on Wednesday.

Tellem is speaking of MLS’ academy system, a top-tier youth soccer league that is supported by every MLS franchise and serves as a de facto feeder system.

The program also supportsafter-school programs, which is all part of the lure.

“One of the most interesting things that I like most about it, is that part and parcel with owning the team we will have a soccer facility and practice facility and an academy to give young people the opportunity to develop in soccer,” Tellem said. “Whether they play professionally or not, but to use that as a tool to be able to get college scholarships – not just for boys, but for girls, too.”

Of all of the elements in Detroit’s MLS bid, one that has received close attention is the proposed stadium site. Gilbert and Gores have targeted a site on Gratiot Avenue in the city’s downtown for a new stadium and surrounding development, but the land is currently occupied by an unfinished jail. Discussions over obtaining the site have unfolded over the last several months, with Gilbert’s Rock Ventures pitching the completion of a new criminal justice complex near Interstate 75 to obtain the downtown site for the stadium. Wayne County executive Warren Evans said earlier this summer that he is instructing his team to pursue an agreement with Rock Ventures, and discussions over that proposal continue to unfold.

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