Major League Soccer on the Horizon for Detroit

According to Bill Shae, there may be even more development of sports arenas in downtown Detroit in the future. Billionaires Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores have reportedly come together to bring a Major League Soccer expansion club and stadium to Detroit. This project would likely cost at least $200 million, but this doesn’t seem to phase Gore.

I think it’s fine,” he said, according to Vince Ellis.  

In a city where elementary schools have hundreds of students playing soccer, MLS will likely find a happy home in Michigan.

“Soccer is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world with a passionate fan base and global reach,” Gilbert said in a press release. “Bringing a team downtown will also further energize Detroit’s urban core, which is critical to the entire city’s overall health and vibrancy.”

Bobby Budlong, a senior from Canton, Michigan, is a member of the Albion men’s soccer team and has also played for Detroit City Football Club. He agrees that the new MLS team could benefit the popularity of the sport.

“I think the MLS team definitely could have the ability to bring more people into the world of soccer,” he said. “I think if an MLS team did come to Detroit that the fanbase would increase, as well as the soccer talent would increase due to a higher level team being available for competition.”

Even Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has voiced his support of the potential team.

“I’ve been pushing for a Major League Soccer team to come to Detroit for some time,” he said.

But despite these exciting new developments, many people are apprehensive about the new soccer team on the block. Supporters of Detroit City FC fear that the new MLS team will ignore the positive growth soccer has already had in Detroit. Since its founding in 2012, DCFC has gained thousands of loyal fans and built a nearly $1 million stadium. This loyalty could make or break the new MLS team.

“If an MLS team does come to Detroit, I can see some of the fans enjoying the experience of having an MLS team around,” said Budlong. “On the other hand, I know some fans would not appreciate a team coming to Detroit because they believe DCFC and the surrounding teams are just what Detroit needs.”

These reservations may also come out of fear of losing DCFC to the MLS team. In both Atlanta and Cincinnati, the introduction of a new professional-level soccer team has essentially kicked out lower-tier clubs.

But because of the novelty of these developments, there is still hope for resolution.

“If people were more aware of the DCFC team and the surrounding teams, I feel the soccer culture and fan base would grow just as much if not more than an MLS team arriving,” said Budlong. “I wish more people knew about DCFC and would come to a game. The environment our fans have created is unlike anything I have ever been a part of.  The drums, the smoke, the chants, the cheering and the support are well worth the trip to Hamtramck.”

DCFC general manager Donovan Powell has also addressed this concern.

“Professional soccer is out there,” he said. “It’s looming. It’s happening. For us, we’re focused on this right here…There’s other groups out there trying to bring professional soccer to the city, and all we can do is focus on us at this point at Keyworth stadium.”

With the introduction of a Major League Soccer team to Detroit being in the very beginning stages, it is too early to say what with happen. Regardless of the positive or negative effects the MLS team will have on the Detroit soccer culture, it is another example of growth in Detroit.

Photo by Sarah Finn

About Sarah Finn 15 Articles
Sarah Finn is a sophomore from Shelby Township, Michigan. She studies English, Psychology, and Secondary Education. Follow her on Twitter @sarahmari37 and on Instagram @sarah.marie.73

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