Detroit hoping for visit from MLS in November

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — As Wayne County continues to weigh whether a soccer stadium on the site of the incomplete jail off Gratiot downtown makes more sense than finishing the costly construction, the expansion process has gone quiet.

The expectation that Major League Soccer officials might visit in October has not been realized.

When asked about the status of the expansion and an attempt by businessmen Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores to secure one of four expansion franchises MLS says it intends to establish in the next two seasons, Arn Tellem, the vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment drew some chuckles with his response at a luncheon of the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field on Wednesday.

“There’s a nice status,” Tellem said, after pausing to consider the question. “We’re moving forward. We’re providing the MLS with our plans for the franchise. We’re hoping to get them out here in Detroit sometime in November, the expansion committee.

“They’ve asked us not to comment publicly about where we are in the process.”

Tellem expressed confidence.

“I think we have a very good case, a public case, between ownership and being about to display the heart of Detroit, which I think is boding well for the team’s success,” Tellem said “When they see Ford Field, Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena in the heart, the center of the city, which is more in Detroit and unique to any American sports city, I think we have a very strong case.

“This is a great sports town.”

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Tellem said the process is out of the control of Gilbert and Gores, billionaire NBA owners, and that he could make no promises.

“I can assure that with Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, we’re going to give it our very best,” Tellem said. “And we’re hopeful we’ll be awarded a franchise later this year.”

MLS officials said this week that there is no new information to report on the expansion process or the potential for a franchise in Detroit.