The Detroit efforts to bring the MLS to the Motor City have been well-documented by us at Detroit Sports Nation. The city and its local sports fans by and large seem supportive of the movement and all eyes are looking squarely at the ownership group of Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert to deliver on their promises to bring association football to Detroit. Despite the idealistic circumstances of having the MLS join the pantheon of Detroit sports teams, one has to wonder what obstacles lie in the way of this occurring. Efforts have been attempted in the past and one has to wonder what could derail a movement that seems to only be picking up more steam.
Below are three major hurdles that Gores and Gilbert must overcome in order to have the city of Detroit attain a Major League Soccer franchise:
1. OTHER POTENTIAL EXPANSION SITES
The MLS has had its mitts in many unique locations across America. Places like Portland, Orlando, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Columbus, and Montreal all have Major League Soccer teams. This creates a unique problem for Detroit that the other major American leagues haven’t created. Locations in the new expansion process that are in contention include St. Louis, San Diego, Sacramento, Charlotte, and Cincinnati among numerous others. St. Louis, San Diego, and Sacramento in particular have been in strong contention to receive the two next available expansion slots that would join the league in 2020. While funding had stalled for a stadium earlier in the month, the St. Louis group behind the expansion effort submitted their application on time.
The biggest threats from other cities come down to San Diego and Sacramento. Sacramento has been a darling in the eyes of the MLS for some time now. The obscure nature of the location and the relatively close proximity to MLS hotbed area of the Pacific Northwest bring a strong possibility of growth for the league in northern California. There is some reprieve for Detroit fans, however, as an ownership quarrel has suddenly derailed the previously strong bid for Sactown.
San Diego is the heavy hitters during this round of expansion. The sudden departure of the San Diego Chargers has opened up increasingly strong speculation that Ron Burgundy’s hometown will receive an American professional soccer team. The newly vacant Qualcomm Stadium and the close proximity to the Mexican border mean success is all but assured in the same way that the Los Angeles Galaxy did. Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy have tapped into the latin communities in the respective cities to have their clubs grow and San Diego will almost assuredly not be an exception.