Detroit tabbed as one of four finalists for future MLS club

Those hopeful for professional sports expansion in the city of Detroit and seeing a soccer team inhabit the downtown area are one step closer to seeing that dream become a reality.

News broke on Wednesday of Major League Soccer announcing four finalists for future expansion franchises and Detroit was listed as one of the final four; along with Cincinnati, Nashville and Sacramento.

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The league has whittled the group of cities who formally bid on carrying a potential MLS club in January from 12 to 4. Come the 2018 season, MLS will have 23 teams and they are hopeful to have as many as 28 down the road.

The bidding group for Detroit is led by Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Cavaliers Dan Gilbert, who is also the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. This tandem has recently been accompanied by Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford, who threw her hat into the ring by offering up the Lions’ home of Ford Field as a potential venue for the prospective team.

Potential site locations for an MLS team in Detroit remained uncertain for quite some time, but the uniting of Ford with Gores and Gilbert has ultimately pushed the Motor City one step closer.

Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem is leading the bid for bringing MLS to Detroit and he released a statement regarding the big news on Wednesday.

“We are excited to be to be named as one of the finalists chosen to meet with Commissioner Garber and the Major League Soccer expansion committee in December and look forward to sharing our bid proposal that would bring MLS soccer to Detroit,” Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, who is leading the Detroit bid, said in a statement. “Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, together with the Ford family, create a powerhouse group that is unprecedented in professional sports and secures a perfect stadium location in the heart of Detroit’s central business and sports and entertainment districts.

“Sports franchises have a unique ability to unite and inspire people. Bringing a team downtown will further energize Detroit’s urban core and impact the community both on and off the field.”

News: Detroit Auto Show
Jan 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers, speaks with Bloomberg reporter Betty Liu at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. Mandatory credit: Elaine Cromie/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK

The idea to bring an MLS franchise to Detroit has been in the works for some time now, going back to January of 2016. It had merely been rumored before MLS commissioner Don Garber hinted at Detroit being a potential landing spot for professional soccer. That opened the door for Gilbert and Gores to conspire and devise a plan to bring MLS to the Motor City.

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The group for Detroit officially submitted their bid back in January. The initial plan for those involved had been to purchase the land near the Wayne County jail site downtown, but those plans fell through for financial reasons and it seemed grim for Detroit’s hopes to reel in the MLS. That is when Martha Ford offered the Lions’ digs as a home for a soccer team.

The Detroit bidding group, along with the other four city finalists, will make final presentations to Garber and the MLS expansion committee on December 6 before convening approximately one week later, and a decision on the two expansion teams should be made some time before the calendar flips to 2018.

“The leaders of the Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento MLS expansion ownership groups have bold visions and innovative plans for their clubs, stadiums and their involvement in their respective communities,” Garber said in a written statement. “We are pleased these highly-respected business and sports leaders have been so determined to bring Major League Soccer to their cities. We have been greatly encouraged by the progress that all four of these groups have made and we are looking forward to their presentations.”

We here at DSN wish the Gores/Gilbert contingent the best of luck next month with their pitch of a pitch in Detroit. Perhaps one of these nicknames will be considered as part of their presentation to the committee.

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