- After a county circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit that could have blocked the deal, the Detroit City Council has voted to authorize a $520 million land swap that would see Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert develop the current site of a stalled jail project and the county build a new jail complex elsewhere, according to the Detroit Free Press.
- Some residents who opposed the county building a jail in their neighborhood requested an emergency injunction to block the deal. The council then delayed the vote by one week due to the the legal action and additional concerns about the impact the jail's construction would have on the area.
- Regardless of the council's approval, the city and county are still waiting for a decision from the Internal Revenue Service as to whether jail bond proceeds can still be used if they decide to build the jail on the alternate site. The deal with Gilbert's Rock Ventures cannot go through without those bonds.
Though Gilbert's interest in the current jail site has been piqued for over a year, what remains to be seen is how motivated the billionaire investor will be to negotiate with Wayne County and Detroit officials. Gilbert has long viewed the site as the future home of a $1 billion Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and mixed-use development, offering generous incentives to the county to sway them toward moving the project to another parcel of land.
But those plans could be thrown out, following a recent move by two other big-name investors. Nearly a week before the originally scheduled city council vote, the Ford family — descendants of the Ford Motor Company founder — threw in with Gilbert and Detroit Pistons' owner Tom Gores. The family is offering not only their influence and long-standing professional sports expertise, but also the use of Ford Field, the NFL stadium where the Detroit Lions play.
Gilbert could still pursue the stadium complex, following comments from MLS officials who said they would likely give priority to those bids with soccer-specific stadiums in the works.
Detroit's isn't the only potential bid gaining investors' attention. A growing U.S. fan base for the sport has created a new interest in soccer-specific stadiums, such as the one international soccer star David Beckham is pushing for in Miami. That trend has created a new opportunity for construction professionals, from general contractors to architects, to diversify their stadium portfolios and provide a new game time experience for players and fans.