- The Ford family has thrown its support behind Detroit's bid for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, according to the Detroit Free Press, and have offered up downtown Ford Field to serve as the home for its future soccer club.
- Thus far, Quicken Loans founder, billionaire Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores have spearheaded the effort to win one of the two franchises that the MLS will announce in December. Now, with the addition of the Ford family, the partnership could scrap its previous plans to build a $1 billion stadium on the site of a downtown jail.
- The MLS has not said what effect, if any, the addition of the Ford family will have on the franchise application, but it did say that their preference still is that new franchisees build soccer-specific stadiums.
If Detroit wins one of the soccer franchise slots and takes Ford's offer to play at Ford Field, the move would end a longstanding back-and-forth between Wayne County officials and Gilbert's Rock Ventures over development of the downtown jail site. As recently as August, Wayne County was reportedly leaning toward handing over the jail property to Gilbert to build the $1 billion stadium, in exchange for him building a $520 million criminal justice center downtown.
But Detroit's not the only one vying for a new MLS franchise and the economic development that would come from one.
Miami is another MLS hopeful, led by international soccer star David Beckham. After a few false starts with prospective sites, his development consortium purchased a six-acre parcel in the city's Overtown district on which to build the new stadium.
But it was the deal on an adjacent three-acre site that set off controversy. Bruce Matheson, a wealthy local activist, filed a legal challenge attempting to scuttle the sale on the grounds that the city should have sought other bids for the property. A judge threw out that lawsuit last month, which should allow construction to move forward if Beckham gets the nod from the MLS.