Detroit Not Getting MLS Team

Submitted by uncle leo on May 25th, 2018 at 1:45 PM…

Cincinatti expected to be the team who gets the second of the four expanion teams.

Consider me disappointed. I really want to see this city get a team, because I know there is a pretty big local following in Metro Detroit for soccer.

What ruined the bid was the Ford Family stepped into the plans and telling MLS they can use Ford Field. Initial plans were to build a new stadium at the old jailsite, which sounded like a real good idea and probably would have made Detroit the leader.



May 25th, 2018 at 2:01 PM ^

I was following this whole Cincinnati thing from 1000+ miles away.  Bit of a political mess.  But the West End SEEMS like a good spot.  Certainly better than the proposed spot in Oakley.


May 25th, 2018 at 3:10 PM ^

Barring a complete overhaul, the traffic situation in Oakley would've been worse than the West End.  The West End is going to look significantly better on TV and appeal more to out of town visitors.  That whole area of Oakley is awash in fast food and big box stores.  Yes, it would've been great to walk from MadTree, but what else is there?  Oakley Square only becomes walkable if they create a way to cross the tracks somewhere other the Madison.  The only argument that you're making is that you're upset that you're going to have to drive a little further than you do now.


May 25th, 2018 at 3:42 PM ^

Yeah, that's fantastic if they'd proposed a stadium at Wasson and Madison.  Instead it was going to be hemmed in by a freeway, an active train track, and a factory (which may have been torn down eventually for a parking garage).  That leaves the east as the only way to approach from.  There's no appreciable parking in any of the squares and no way to get to the stadium from there anyway.

West End is two blocks from OTR, which has thousands of parking spots and the street car, which connects to the Banks and CBD.  (And OTR/CBD/Banks have as many bars/restaurants as the squares). 


May 25th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

Loved the neighborhood.  Current traffic patterns simply can't support too much more though.  It's a disaster AS IS anytime Crossroads has services (multiple-times Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings). 

I simply can't imagine layering Saturday night MLS games on TOP of that.


May 25th, 2018 at 5:27 PM ^

West End is the best option after keeping the team at Nippert. Made me so happy to see Clifton thrive these few years.

So many good things have happened in OTR but it has come to a stop the last few years, this will push gentrification forward and will displace a lot of people with nowhere really left to go.

I’m happy for the city, and I don’t mean to use gentrification in a nasty way, but that’s what it is.


May 25th, 2018 at 4:41 PM ^

Honestly do we really need a new stadium in downtown Detroit. That location is good enough that a developer will put something there that may be a better investment than a small time stadium that is redundant to Ford field.


May 25th, 2018 at 1:57 PM ^

Seriously fuck the MLS for penalizing Detroit because we wouldn’t subsidize them a brand new soccer only stadium.


May 25th, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

It is wise not to subsidize.

But MLS has to look after its own interests, and do its best to ensure strong franchises. A team without any real hope of a good stadium solution is just not going to have the same pull as a team that has one. 

Not surprising. This was over when they started trying to sell Ford Field as an option. Ironically, Ford Field isn't the worst idea in the world for a converted football-to-soccer indoor stadium, but it's still a bad idea. 

The upshot here is that I don't have to go through the bizarre process of choosing a favorite sports team between my Michigan roots (where all my existing loyalties lie) and the place I am now firmly settled in (where a nice new stadium opens next year). At least, I won't until AAFC plays Duluth FC in a playoff game, if that ever comes close to happening again. 


May 25th, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

Not surprising as Cincinnati was the presumptive favorite from the beginning (it was just a matter of if they could secure the land for the stadium). Once the Sacramento bid went supernova, it was down to Nashville and Detroit for that last spot.

However, there's still a very good chance MLS wants to expand right away again. With Columbus trying to move to Austin and the Miami franchise being held up indefinitely, there's a good chance MLS is going to try to expand again and soon... and Detroit is at the top of the list of feasible bids/market/ownership. Plus, with the success of Atlanta United in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, I don't think the MLS is as opposed to the idea of Ford Field as they once were. 

If you want MLS in Detroit, you should root for:

  • Columbus to move to Austin.
  • Miami continue to be unable to find a stadium site.
  • Nashville (or another franchise) being moved to the Western Conference.



May 25th, 2018 at 2:36 PM ^

It has that rep, but it's based off WC qualifiers, not MLS attendance. They have the second  worst attendance in the league this year and were third from bottom last year. There are also modern stadium politics involved, where a new owner portrays a less 20 year old stadium as outdated in an attempt to extort local pols.

On Detroit's bid, the Ford Field proposal was never going to be accepted when there were competing proposals that were building their own facilities, nor should it have been. 


May 25th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

Basically, the Crew were sold in 2013 to Anthony Precourt in a deal that included an escape clause for moving the franchise. Columbus Crew have a rich history, devoted fanbase, and an SSS (soccer-specific stadium); but that stadium was one of the first ones built and doesn't have great amenities, isn't ideally located (not downtown), and generally speaking, the third biggest city in Ohio isn't exactly a hotbed for franchise value like teams in New York, Miami, or Los Angeles would be. So Precourt basically demanded a new, downtown stadium, strong-armed with the threat to move the club.

Now where it gets really interesting is the idea that Precourt intended to move the team from the very beginning, made unrealistic stadium demands while refusing to negotiate, and has been sabotaging certain metrics to point to the idea that it's simply a bad market. All the while, the MLS has remained distant because deep down they know that there are greener pastures elsewhere.    

It's a long story that if you're interested you should read up on.

As a soccer fan, it's sad to see. But as someone who desperately wants an MLS team in Detroit and holds no love for Columbus, Ohio... Their loss is our gain. 


May 25th, 2018 at 2:43 PM ^

Atlanta has been a home run, for sure. Seattle does a great job filling Century Link. Newer clubs like Minnesota, NYCFC, and LAFC are all sold out and are at capacity of 22,000 of their season tickets. Portland is looking to expand their stadium.

What I'm trying to say is that a 20,000-25,000 seat stadium may not be big enough anymore. It might be better to move into a new franchise into a place that has a 66,000 seat capacity, even if you only fill half of it.   


May 25th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

It seems like MLS is generally making a bet that smaller stadiums customized for soccer (both LA and Minnesota's new stadium have standing sections behind one goal, ie no seats, and the rest of the seats are close) where they control all revenues is both a better fan experience and business model than the kind of situation proposed at Ford Field. Atlanta's obviously the counterpoint, but it seems to have some particularities that don't apply (specifically, the relocation of MLB to the far northern suburbs).

FWIW, NYCFC almost never sells seats in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium and they rarely sell out the lower bowl. Given the issues they're having building their own facility, as well as Miami's, I doubt MLS ever green lights another expansion team that doesn't already have a stadium deal.


May 25th, 2018 at 2:11 PM ^

Gilbert was the one who let them in and didn’t stick to the originals plans. As soon as that happened and they went to an indoor stadium not designed for soccer you knew it would fail. They basically told the MLS “we know you have requirements, but they don’t apply to us”

Pepto Bismol

May 25th, 2018 at 2:14 PM ^

Half-baked thoughts:

I think the Gilbert/Gores plan was pretty transparent from the start. It had much less to do with bringing MLS to Detroit and far more to do with getting his hands on that jail site and adjacent prime downtown real estate by any means necessary. 

I think what the DCFC crowd started was great. I also think they've become way too full of themselves and overly possessive of Detroit soccer and I didn't mind them being knocked down a peg (is there even a peg lower than 4th Division?)

Detroit MLS will happen when somebody enters the fold with valid intentions, knowledge and respect for the grass roots soccer culture that has alread sprouted. Gilbert & Co. were content spitting in DCFC's face and burying them under a truckload of money. And while I shed no tears for those boners in Hamtramck, that was an equally bullshit way to approach the situation. 

I don't know the answer, but that wasn't it. And I don't think anybody wants to watch pro soccer on field turf in a half-empty Lions dome. 



May 25th, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

How did Gilbert and Gores "spit in the face" of DCFC? And what exactly does DCFC as a club have to offer G+G other than their one supporter group (that, by the way, would never support an MLS team to begin with)? 

The truth is that the Utica Unicorns bring just as much to the Tigers as DCFC would bring to an MLS team. G+G were right to never try and appease those knuckleheads in the first place

Pepto Bismol

May 25th, 2018 at 4:09 PM ^

Gilbert/Gores spit in their face by pretending a Detroit soccer fan base didn't already exist.

And what they have to offer is a Detroit soccer fan base that, at the very least, already exists.

I know there are more soccer fans in the metro area than just the DCFC/NGS crowd. But the effort of that fan base far exceeds the level of soccer they follow and puts every other NPSL (and a large majority of USL) fanbases to shame. They have become a large band of idiot soccer supporters without a worthwhile team to support.

So what are you asking? Why would a professional soccer ownership group whose goal it is to sell lots of tickets and merchandise want to befriend and accomodate the largest organized soccer fanbase in the market they're about to enter? 

Yeah, who fuckin' knows man.

Unrelated, why am I always broke?



May 25th, 2018 at 5:05 PM ^

...they seem to be a reasonable and open-minded group about the MLS.

An MLS team is never getting the Northern Guard (which is fine, other supporter groups would be created) and there aren't enough non-NGS supporters to "win" by giving lip service or a slice of the pie to DCFC. Those casual fans who are open to the MLS will come over regardless. 


The Krusty Kra…

May 25th, 2018 at 6:41 PM ^

Is a bunch of white people cosplaying as Eastern European Ultras at a 4th tier soccer match. Flares, smokebombs, and obscenities do not make for a strong supporter culture. TNG does a shit job representing the soccer community in Southeast Michigan in terms of those who actually make up said community across Metro Detroit and beyond. Why that is, I am not sure, and have an open ear willing to listen, but the overall hostility of some of the DCFC fan base towards literally ANYONE who dares besmirch their team is childish at best.

Moving forward - I don't want Gilbert and Gores involved in future attempts to get an MLS team. They screwed the pooch. Gilbert already owns half the city, whereas Gores is too drunk the make sure the Pistons are in functioning order. No thank you. I'm sure a new ownership group with at least *roots* to Detroit can come up with something but it's gonna be awhile before we get a team here. I hitched on with Atlanta United from Day 1 since I have family down there and went to a match at Bobby Dodd last year, I'm checking out Mercedes Benz this season in addition to driving down to Columbus two weeks from Wednesday for a United-Crew match (24 dollar 100 level seats on Seatgeek though.) The team does a good job representing the city and its transplant nature while having some southern charm mixed in. The game at Bobby Dodd felt like going to an SEC game tailgate, but it was soccer.

Detroit is a city that absolutely could rally around an MLS team and build a thriving supporters culture, but it's going to take an actual, properly put together bid to attract the league.


May 25th, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

Famous last words.

Seriously though, this city/metropolitan area needs to let one of these rejections (Amazon, Army, MLS) wake them up.  Detroit is not a city that is going to win any of these bids without giving these companies exactly what they want.  Improve the schools, cut the city tax and get at minimum a late-20th century transit and maybe they can start to win some of these companies/organizations over.


May 25th, 2018 at 2:58 PM ^

I have a friend who works for the Republic as their equipment manager and he's adamant that the MLS bridge is burned for Sacramento. This was their one shot and they brought in outside investors who ruined their chances. 


May 25th, 2018 at 3:06 PM ^

If Dan Gilbert actually wanted to start an MLS team Detroit would have gotten one. The problem is, he didn't, so when the Fords offered up the use of Ford Field, it allowed him to make it look like he was still trying to acquire an MLS team while also more or less guaranteeing MLS wouldn't award him one. It meant he could still pursue the jail site without actually having to start a soccer team, and it worked.

MI Expat NY

May 25th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

Yeah, it seems like blaming the Fords is off base here. The trend with stadium deals seems to be as the basis of wider redevelopment plans. Gilbert seemed to be taking that approach until he realized he could get the jail site without the stadium.

If MLS starts to struggle finding cities willing to build stadiums, Detroit will be in good position again with Ford Field.


May 25th, 2018 at 3:09 PM ^

Detroit getting a MLS team is the only way I will ever really get into soccer (outside of the WC).  It's great if you have a rooting interest but I just haven't been able to get emotionally invested in a random MLS or Euro team.  

uncle leo

May 25th, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

Is generally my biggest rooting interest in soccer. I know I'll get beaten up for suggesting such a thing, but Donovan's goal against Algeria was the single greatest moment of fandom with ANY sport in my life. 

The night they missed making the WC was one of the more painful ones I've felt as a fan, but it was odd. It did not really hit me right away, and then Twellman had his rant, and I felt it after. And I will be sick watching the Cup without the US in it. 

Nobody Likes a…

May 25th, 2018 at 3:31 PM ^

The MLS really seems to have its’ graft on. The team valuations are excessive even by North American standards, and while the league is perceived as on the up attendance is dropping in a lot of locations. The home grown supporters culture is showing signs of being strangled out (go to a TFC or LA Galaxy game and compare it to 5 years ago). While in principle I never have a problem with Columbus being held to ransom another team in Austin isn’t going to do anything. The local TV contracts are a mess and watching a lot of teams games are really difficult (again see the Galaxy for this). I just don’t see how this constant expansion is helpful to the league when the talent pool is stretched so thinly.


May 25th, 2018 at 6:05 PM ^

Mls is easy to crap on but I’ve been to some mLS games and they’re a lot of fun and a lot less assholes in the stadiums than other events . I think Detroit having a team would get solid attendance