- Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores announced their bid for a Major League Soccer franchise and have proposed building a $1 billion mixed-use stadium complex on the site of a stalled county jail project, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
- Wayne County officials, however, said they still plan to complete the jail on the existing 15-acre parcel and that there is no sale pending.
- The MLS favors "urban soccer stadiums," and league officials said they are "very focused" on the jail property in evaluating the Gilbert-Gores franchise proposal, according to Crain's.
The proposed 500,000-square-foot, 20,000-to-25,000-seat stadium’s estimated cost is $225 million to $250 million, and the complex proposal features three glass skyscrapers — one hotel, one office building and one residential tower — ranging from 18 to 28 stories with retail, bars and restaurants.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said that the county would be receptive to an offer if it is reasonable and made before the county issues a request for proposals to complete the jail, which he expects to be this summer or late fall, Crain’s reported. Evans also said the Gilbert-Gores team must help the county with a new jail so that there is no additional burden to the taxpayers. Group spokesman Matt Cullen said the project will be funded with private money but that they have left the door open for a public contribution. MLS officials said they plan to select a new round of expansion teams in the next two years.
Not too far from what could be Detroit’s new soccer stadium is the Red Wings arena district, currently under construction. The Ilitch family, owner of Little Caesars, has overseen the $1.2 billion investment in the arena and the surrounding 50-block mixed-use development of retail, office, multifamily and hotel space. Ilitch-owned Olympia Development said that 75% of the total investment is private money.
However, the fact that Gilbert-Gores' representatives did not rule out public financing for the new MLS stadium could face opposition from critics who opposed the city’s decision to divert property taxes meant for Detroit public schools to the Red Wings project. But as a positive for the community and in a boon for the Detroit economy, the project’s development agreement requires at least 51% of the project’s projected 5,500 construction workers be Detroit residents. In addition, 30% of the total construction contract value was required to be awarded to local businesses.