MLS Is Still Waiting For Detroit

The jail fail.


Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber did his best retired National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern impression last week following the announcement that FC Cincinnati will be joining the league as an expansion team in 2019. Stern once told New Jersey lawmakers that they blew it by not providing funding for a new arena for the New Jersey Nets in Newark. Garber was clearly irritated with the plans of the Detroit expansion bidders as the MLS is looking for a few good owners for expansion teams. The MLS has filled two of the four expansion slots in a search that began in February 2017.  Nashville elected officials found a quarter of a billion dollars to help fund a soccer stadium in the city and were welcomed with open arms by Garber. Cincinnati politicians cut all sorts of deals paving the way for FC Cincinnati to enter the MLS. But Detroit is not cooperating.

Detroit bid backers originally had a site in mind where an unfinished jail is located. The original plan had the Detroit group take the land over but there was a change in plans and the backers decided that sharing a football stadium with the NFL Lions made much more financial sense. To Garber that was a betrayal. “It set them back. But in many ways, they have come together to retrofit the field, which could make it very MLS-ready and they can talk about what those ideas might be, but they were really front runners when they were looking at the jail site.” Cincinnati, Nashville, Sacramento and Detroit emerged as the four major contenders for MLS expansion teams after a search for cities with owners and stadiums that were acceptable for the MLS. St. Louis dropped out of the running when voters turned down providing assistance for a soccer stadium. Other markets either had owner or stadium problems. The expansion plans continue.


Detroit was once number 1 for an expansion team.