New Hope for a Major League Soccer Expansion Team in Detroit?
Detroit's hopes for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise started with promise and excitement, but was followed by a series of disappointments.
A new announcement may bring hope to what was beginning to seem like a lost cause.
Detroit was one of the front-runners to gain an MLS franchise just three years ago. The billionaire sports ownership team of Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Tom Gores (Detroit Pistons) came with a strong offer of a $1 billion downtown development which would include building a new soccer stadium.
It seemed the franchise was coming and approval from MLS was likely until the ownership team changed their minds and wanted to move the team indoors to Ford Field. MLS quickly lost interest. The potential owners countered with the idea of adding a retractable roof to Ford Field, but they quickly rescinded the idea. It likely didn't make much of a difference either way.
Meanwhile, new franchises have begun play or been awarded to the cities of Cincinnati, Miami, Nashville and Austin. That left only one spot remaining to reach MLS' previously announced team limit of 28 teams. Most viewed Sacramento and St. Louis as the clear front-runners for the final spot.
Last week other cities, including Detroit, gained new hope as MLS announced they are once again expanding. This expansion will bring the total number of teams to 30. That leaves three open positions, but two of them are likely to go to Sacramento and St. Louis. The announcement confirmed that "no official decision was made on future expansion markets, but the Commissioner’s office was authorized to advance discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis ownership groups regarding their bids."
MLS expects to announced the 28th and 29th expansion teams by July 31. The expansion fees are set at $200 million. Detroit has slim hope for those positions. Detroit could quickly move to the front of the line for the 30th expansion team if the ownership team decides to revert to building a new soccer stadium, but it's hard to say if that is even being considered.