Retractable Roof Considered for Ford Field MLS Plans

Ford Field MLS

Detroit MLS expansion bid backers are considering a retractable roof for a Ford Field MLS renovation, making it one of the upgrade options on the table. 

As it looks to build its case in the next round of MLS expansion, Detroit is further exploring its options to upgrade Ford Field–the downtown Detroit home of the NFL’s Lions. The bid, led by Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, owners the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, respectively, is centered around upgrading Ford Field to accommodate MLS rather than the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium.

Discussions continue over the best ways to make Ford Field more enticing to MLS, and one of those options is reportedly overhauling the fixed-roof facility to have a retractable roof. Gilbert mentioned this possibility in a recent interview with SportsBusiness Daily, and a spokesperson for the Pistons confirmed that it is one of the many possibilities being reviewed. However, many details are still being explored, including feasibility and cost. More from The Detroit News:

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, founder of Quicken Loans, and one of the proposed owners of an MLS franchise in the city, revealed the idea in an interview with Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily.

“It’s one of many options being explored,” Kevin Grigg, a spokesman for the Pistons, confirmed.

However, Grigg emphasized that a myriad of potential options are under review, early in an ongoing process that is expected to take some time.

According to the trade publication, Gilbert said his executives are meeting with officials from Ford Field to determine the cost and feasibility.

The Detroit bid 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. While Detroit made a slate of four finalists considered by MLS in December, the league ultimately selected Nashville and later Cincinnati–two bids with proposals for new soccer-specific stadiums. When Cincinnati was selected in May, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that Detroit’s bid was set back by the Ford Field proposal.

Proponents of using Ford Field have noted that it could be modeled to follow some of the succesful examples of dual use MLS/NFL facilities, including the retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Adding a retractable roof to Ford Field could make it more closely resemble Atlanta in terms of specifications, though the cost and feasibility will surely be major factors in determining whether it moves forward. As part of the Ford Field proposal, the wealthy Ford family–owner of the Lions–would be added to the MLS club’s ownership.

Rendering courtesy Rossetti.

RELATED STORIES: Detroit MLS Expansion Backers, MLS Continue Ford Field Discussions; 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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