Until a couple of weeks ago, you'd have never heard Detroit often mentioned in terms of MLS expansion. That has changed. Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores
and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan
are partnering to bring a club to downtown Detroit, putting the Motor City third in line for an expansion team.
MLS commissioner Don Garber
will be in Detroit on
Wednesday to meet the ownership group and hear plans for a stadium in Detroit.
He had recently mentioned
Sacramento, St. Louis, Detroit, San Diego and San Antonio/Austin as
expansion targets for teams 25-28. Sacramento is the likely No. 25, and St. Louis is No. 26.
Gores and Gilbert, who both have substantial sports, business and investment holdings in the
region, issued a joint statement:
“Detroit is rising and we know firsthand the power of sports to lift a community and drive a civic renaissance. We are very excited
about the prospect of bringing Major League Soccer to Detroit and building an ownership group that represents a cross-section of investors.”
The first Detroit pro club was the
Cougars, who played in the USA in 1967 (represented by Northern Ireland's Glentoran) and then NASL in 1968 and were owned by William Clay Ford, the grandson of Henry
Ford and owner of the NFL Lions.
The NASL returned to Detroit in 1978 with the Express, which featured English star Trevor Francis. The Express resurfaced in the ASL in
1981 and set a league record when it drew 33,762 fans for the third and final game of the 1982 final series against the Oklahoma City Slickers.
Soccer lives on in Detroit with the PDL's
Michigan Bucks and NPSL's Detroit City FC. The Bucks, who are in their 21st season, have won the PDL in 2006 and 2014. Detroit City FC averaged 3,528 fans in 2015, its fourth season in the NPSL.
The community-based team reached its fundraising goal of $400,000 in its historic community financing campaign to release funds for the rehabilitation of 80-year-old Keyworth Stadium in
Bless You, Lads!