As Major League Soccer continues to grow, groups are being assembled all across the United States to place a bid for the next expansion team. The MLS playoffs are getting heated, as the four conference finalists will be determined after this weekend’s matches. The battle for one of the two expansion bids that will be awarded in December is also getting intense. MLS commissioner Don Garber has suggested that the frontrunners for those slots are Sacramento, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Nashville. Keep in mind, there will be an additional two expansion bids awarded before the beginning of next season; therefore, all four of the afore-mentioned cities have a chance to win a bid.
Gilbert, Gores, And Ford To Form Super Group
The group leading the charge for Detroit is composed of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. The most important MLS requirement going into the expansion process was a finalized plan for the construction of a soccer-specific stadium; however, the two experienced owners do not believe that MLS stadiums allow for enough seating for a league that is rapidly growing in popularity. Right now, most MLS stadiums have an average range of 18,000-25,000. As a result, the Detroit group approached the powerful Ford family about partnering to bring a team to Ford Field in hopes of capitalizing on the success of Atlanta’s new franchise.
Capitalizing On Atlanta’s Success
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank was awarded an expansion team prior to the 2016-17 season. The Atlanta United was one of the most impressive first-year teams in history, as they were able to notch a playoff slot. In addition, the team set MLS attendance records. Blank and the Falcons opened their brand new state-of-the-art stadium, which the United will utilize as their home as well. Some speculate that the overwhelming attendance success of the United can be contributed to the fact that the stadium was new. Others think that it is because Blank treated his soccer team as equals to his football team. Ford Field has been around since 2002, so the hype may not be the same as Atlanta. Nevertheless, partnering with the Lions would save the community a boatload of money, and Detroit fans would be familiar with the surroundings, creating a seamless transition for an MLS franchise.