Expansion Thoughts: Motor City and Major League Soccer

Expansion Thoughts: Motor City and Major League Soccer

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 8, 2011
  • 2 Comments
  • Detroit Expansion, MLS Expansion

It isn't a sexy option but if things line up it wouldn't be the worst one.

It is Friday, and I’ll admit, my brain is going in 20 different directions at the moment with work, FCD’s game tonight, life, and other items. But I saw this link and it got me thinking about a potential MLS market that I really haven’t touched a whole lot on in the past and that is Detroit.

I believe the few comments I’ve made over the last couple years on Detroit is, “nope”, “not anytime soon”, and “they’re kidding, right?”.

Most of that remains the same as right now the Motor City has no potential ownership group stepping out to claim that they are interested in a MLS team. Sure the group that bought the Silverdome a couple years ago said they wanted a MLS team there but I highly doubt they’ll have the big league cash to get it done without brining in other investors.

Then the stadium issue is still there, do we really want to see games at a half-empty (or mostly empty) Silverdome? I know I don’t want that. Maybe if they can configure the Silverdome into a smaller venue the way BC Place is getting renovated up in Vancouver then I’ll be more on board with it. They don’t need a retractable roof like Vancouver but they definitely need something smaller to attract better attention from Don Garber and the rest of the league.

The thing is, I will agree with the article in the fact that Detroit is a good sports market. Even with tough times in the Motor City, fans still support their teams. I do believe MLS would be no different there as well. If you have ever been to Detroit or know people from that area, you’ll know well enough that they love all sports. So the whole,¬†competing¬†for attention in that town doesn’t worry me nearly as much as it does in other potential markets.

Another positive thing going for the area is the youth soccer movement. The Michigan Bucks of the PDL have done very well over the last couple years and in the college ranks the University of Michigan is starting to put together a top flight program. So developing an academy system there shouldn’t be a problem as there are plenty of quality soccer players coming out of Michigan these days.

Last and certainly not least is the rivalry factor. A Detroit team is perfectly located to be a natural rival to Columbus, Chicago, and Toronto. The first two teams need more natural rivals while you know Toronto would bring fans to their games in Detroit.

Is Detroit a perfect city for MLS? Not right now, but it is certainly looking more appealing than I thought it initially would. I know it isn’t a “sexy” choice for an expansion team but put some biased opinions of Detroit aside and look at some of the facts brought up in that article, you may be surprised. Fans will want a team in the Southeast before a team in Detroit and I get that, and for the most part I agree with that thought. But you can’t tell me if a big investor came in and said they’d pony up the cash for an expansion team and make the right improvement to the Silverdome that the league wouldn’t jump all over it the same day.