MLS Expansion: Detroit gets big boost

Like in many MLS expansion markets, Detroit's soccer stadium plan isn't straightforward, complicated by local development issues and local politics. But it got a boost as Wayne County executive Warren Evans signaled he prefers the plan of MLS bidders for a new criminal justice complex.



The soccer component. Rock Ventures (owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert) proposes to build a 23,000-seat soccer stadium as part of a $1.5 billion development at a downtown location.

The jail component. That development is contingent on Wayne County abandoning a plan to the finish a 2,000-bed jail at the downtown location and building a from-scratch criminal justice complex (adult and juvenile detention facilities, new criminal courthouse and sheriff's and prosecutor's offices) about 1.5 miles away. The cost of $300 million to finish the downtown jail would be credited against Rock Ventures' costs of building the brand-new facility (estimated at $520 million). Wayne County received two final construction proposals.

Evans' statement: "While both proposals remain options, I've directed my team to dedicate their time and resources toward attempting to reach a contract with Rock Ventures. The Rock Ventures proposal has more upside, less risk and a smaller financial gap than Walsh Construction's proposal. There are, however, many issues to resolve with Rock Ventures before I could recommend the approval of a contract to the County Commission and the County Building Authority."

Detroit's place in pecking order. The Detroit MLS bid was submitted by Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Gilbert, giving it two heavy hitters and prominent sports entrepreneurs. They will catch the attention of MLS. 

4 comments about "MLS Expansion: Detroit gets big boost".
  1. Mike Polonski, August 1, 2017 at 12:13 p.m.

    Detroit has all the ingredients for a successful MLS franchise. Not quite at a Seattle or Atlanta level, but comparable to NYCFC and/or Minnesota. Our 4th division NPSL team, Detroit City FC, averages 5,000 fans per game. However, many DCFC fans, including myself, love the smaller club and would hate to see it go at the expense of a MLS franchise. I remain hopeful that the two clubs will be able to coexist. Nearly 5 million people live in the metro area. Lots of soccer fans.

  2. Paul Cox, August 1, 2017 at 12:28 p.m.

    Detroit's also got a problem with the local die-hard supporter community; the incoming proposed owners have not done a good job in reaching out and building relationships with them. This doesn't guarantee doom (Atlanta had some similar issues, and look at how well they're doing) but it might turn sour there.

  3. Ed Henn, August 1, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.

    Detroit hasn't been mentioned anywhere as a possible location. The odds of a soccer stadium is nil. The timeline can't work either. He wants to steal prime real estate downtown Detroit, worth 350-400 M for free at the end of it. Between parking for county and city officials and sharing in operational cost savings. The city needs to get a competitive bid from someone else and sell the property downtown. I agree it should be moved. But how do you award a 600M plus deal without a equal comparison?

  4. Nick Daverese, August 1, 2017 at 3:17 p.m.

    Let's see the choice is a prison or a soccer stadium? I choose a soccer stadium. But they can make a little jail house to store the players with too many red cards. Then we have both :) the best of both worlds.

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