The application process for MLS expansion to Detroit is almost here

We may finally be coming closer to Detroit finally receiving an MLS team. After the initial plan was presented by Dan Gilbert and his business group to bring MLS to Detroit, news had remained pretty quite on those efforts. The primary point of contention had revolved around the MLS not formally announcing its expansion plans and the hotly contested Wayne County Jail site.

There is light coming through the clouds now with the Detroit MLS efforts. The MLS have finally laid out solid plans for how many teams they will add and when.

According to Sports Illustrated’s report:

Major League Soccer intends to identify its next two expansion teams during the second or third quarter of 2017—likely the third, according to commissioner Don Garber—and those clubs will begin playing by 2020, the league announced Thursday afternoon. MLS then intends to begin crafting a timeline for the selection and entry of teams No. 27 and 28.

While Los Angeles FC prepares to take the field in 2018 and David Beckham’s Miami team, supposedly team No. 24, continues to try and simply find one, the MLS board of governors met Thursday morning in New York City to draft the road map to 28 clubs. The first significant milestone is January 31, when prospective expansion team owners must submit a formal application to the league.

The second portion of the quote is the most important for the Detroit efforts. Applications will be accepted by January 31st and will consist of ten reported ownership groups; ones in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa Bay. Las Vegas had also been rumored to be in the running but hasn’t seen the same type of support that other potential cities have.

Efforts in St. Louis have stalled after a stadium plan was shot down and Charlotte’s stadium discussions have been delayed. A new group of investors in San Diego have come forward since the departure of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles to fill the sporting void left by the NFL leaving the southern California city.

The Detroit Lions have found their No. 2 tight end

If the Detroit investment team of Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert are to bring Major League Soccer to Detroit, then they will need to have a business plan that meets all of the criteria laid out by the MLS for the application process. Word is that the Gores/Gilbert-led team will indeed have an application bid submitted by the end of the month.

Here is the general criteria of what any business plan would look like from any business team looking to put in a bid for an MLS club in their city:

  1. A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.

  2. A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.

  3. A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community.

If the city of Detroit is going to receive it’s fifth professional sports team, then Gilbert and CO. will need to nail this application process. Investment in the team and a specific area to develop a stadium, like the Wayne County Jail Site, will need to be in place for soccer fans of Detroit to receive what they’ve been craving for.

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