Ford family joins Detroit push to get MLS team which would use Ford Field
(WJBK) - There will be four expansion teams added to Major League Soccer and Detroit is one of 12 cities fighting to make the cut.
The Ford family is now involved and Detroit's bid may have more kick.
It's Thursday night at Thomas Magees Sporting House and owner Erik Olson is still buzzing on news the Ford family is teaming up with Dan Gilbert and Pistons owner Tom Gores to bring an expansion pro soccer team to the motor city.
"I want to do it Detroit style man," Olson said. "I want to do it big."
And the addition of the Ford family to the MLS bid is just that big and it brings a change in the proposed stadium pick.
Gilbert and Gores fought hard to secure the fail jail because the site would make the grade as a soccer arena.
Now the plan is to have Ford Field house the would-be soccer team complete with its $100 million renovation, perfectly pitched seating, and convenient location.
Eric Larson from the Downtown Detroit Partnership weighed in.
"The fact that so many of these sports teams are coming together to try and find ways to really leverage the existing assets the city has to offer is like I said, not only very fitting but also a brilliant play to make sure MLS takes this bid very seriously," he said.
Larson, CEO of Downtown Detroit Partnership, says the current plan is also fiscally responsible: no new stadium should mean no tax dollars fueling this effort.
"And quite frankly it's a way that we can all rally around it because it is putting the tax dollars we already put to work into better use," he said.
"The community really couldn't handle another taxpayer funded stadium right now," Olson said. "We've got a beautiful facility right there with plenty of space centrally located."
But what about the unfinished jail site? Matt Cullen of Rock Ventures, a Gilbert company, says they're still committed to their proposal to build Wayne County a new criminal justice complex in exchange for the fail jail and putting a mixed-use development in its place.
There are a few Wayne County commissioners still against that deal - Ray Basham being one of them.
"I just want to finish what we started," he said. "There is no win-lose on this. It's lose or lose more."
In the meantime, the MLS is reviewing Detroit's revamped bid. They are not saying much now but the last sentence of a statement to FOX 2 was a bit sobering.
In a release "MLS continues to prioritize soccer-specific stadiums as criteria for the selection of MLS expansion markets,"
"Maybe it doesn't sound too good in terms of a release but I think with an NBA, NHL owner and an NFL owner coming together, it's almost going to challenge MLS to say no."
And something else to consider, there are a few pro soccer teams that play in football stadiums - so it's not as if Detroit would be the first.