Detroit MLS Expansion Backers, MLS Continue Ford Field Discussions

Ford Field MLS

Backers of the Detroit MLS expansion bid continue discussions with MLS over the potential use of Ford Field, which remains part of the proposal. 

Detroit was among a field of four finalists for two MLS expansion slots considered by the league in December, but was ultimately passed over in favor of Nashville and later Cincinnati–two bids that call for the construction of new soccer-specific stadiums. The bid from Detroit, led by Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores–owners the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, respectively–had previously included a new downtown stadium, but that element of the proposal was scrapped last fall in favor of using the existing Ford Field. When Cincinnati was selected in May, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that Detroit’s bid was set back by the Ford Field proposal.

Located in downtown Detroit, Ford Field is home to the NFL’s Lions and would receive renovations to accommodate MLS. Since Cincinnati’s bid was selected, backers of the Detroit proposal have said that they will continue to include Ford Field in any pitch for the next round of MLS expansion. According to Arn Tellem, the Detroit group is continuing discussions with MLS to go over the plans for Ford Field. More from The Detroit News:

“I think MLS has now accepted the fact that Ford Field is the right place,” said Arn Tellem, vice chairman of the Pistons, who has been charged by owner Tom Gores with coordinating the bid in Detroit.

“We’re continuing our discussions with them.

“They view Detroit favorably and our application favorably, and we’re just going to continue to answer some of the questions that they have.”

“It’s been ongoing, the process.”

As part of the Ford Field arrangement, the wealthy Ford family–owner of the Lions–would be added to the MLS club’s ownership.

Detroit’s blueprint seems aimed at following some successful models of dual-use NFL/MLS stadiums, as both Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Seattle’s CenturyLink Field are examples of where MLS teams are thriving in larger facilities. Two bids with soccer-specific stadiums proved successful in the last round, and many of the proposals that will compete with Detroit in the next round follow the soccer-specific model for their facilities. However, with many questions remaining about the next round of MLS expansion, it remains to be seen how the process will unfold. We took a closer look at the next round of MLS expansion in a feature last month.

Renderings courtesy Rossetti.

RELATED STORIES: Garber: Detroit MLS Expansion Bid Hampered by Ford Field PitchDetroit Prepares to Present MLS Expansion BidFour MLS Expansion Finalists AnnouncedArn Tellem: MLS Can Work at Ford FieldNew Downtown Detroit Stadium Scrapped; Ford Field Now Target MLS Facility

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