How MLS expansion bids compare

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Dan Gilbert has unveiled a plan that will transform the stalled Wayne County jail project at Gratiot near Interstate 375 into a Major League Soccer facility.

Major League Soccer has received 12 bids for four expansion franchises it will award, likely two late this year and two in 2018. Eight of the proposals, including Detroit’s, do not include fixed stadium plans.


Pro: North Carolina is a strong soccer market. Bidder is wealthy and experienced in running NASCAR and IndyCar venues.

Con: No stadium plans in place, and some difficulty courting Charlotte officials.


Pro: Major attraction of United Soccer League. Setting attendance records (about 17,300). Wealthy, determined owner. Nippert Stadium at University of Cincinnati temporary venue.

Con: Small media market. MLS seeks new venue.


Pro: High-powered ownership group, major media market in city recognized among best sports towns in North America.

Con: Stadium in early development stage. Proposed site is partially constructed jail county intends to finish.

Detroit MLS bid goes all-in on Gratiot jail site


Pro: North American Soccer League (NASL) franchise is successful in town with NFL and NBA chops.

Con: Ownership group seeking more backers. Mid-sized market with hot competition from bidders nearby. Approach to officials on stadium plan faces political uncertainty.


Pro: Wealthy ownership group, local officials eager for more professional sports and good support for NFL and NHL franchises. Late in preparations, but could leapfrog competitors.

Con: Small market. Trying to play catch-up in early planning for a stadium.


Pro: Big market. Desirable demographics in expanding media market. Stadium plans and site in place.

Con: Pro soccer struggling to find niche in saturated sports market.


Pro: Prominent soccer market and bidder, Stephen Malik, owns NASL and National Women’s Soccer League franchises.

Con: Small market. Stadium plans only now emerging. No site in place. Ownership group lacks heft.


Pro: Underserved sports market. Strong USL franchise in big soccer market. A frontrunner until just before deadline for bids.

Con: Not a major market. Prospective partnership of owners rocky, cobbled together by mayor.

San Antonio

Pro: Ownership group of NBA’s Spurs is bidder. USL team has shown success proportionate to the smaller market.

Con: MLS will need a little persuasion about the small market and stadium requires expansion. Would be third team in Texas.

San Diego

Pro: Bid by group of investors includes plan for 30,000-seat stadium that would be shared with San Diego State on site of former NFL Chargers venue.

Con: Shoe-horned between MLS franchises in Los Angeles, where there soon may be a second, and Tijuana. Stadium site not secured.

St. Louis

Pro: Sports tradition. Demonstrated soccer interest in town rabid for MLB Cardinals and NHL Blues and missing NFL, MLS has courted it for years.

Con: Polls suggest voters will oppose tax and stadium referendums in April.


Pro: Big market. Strong support for Rowdies of USL. Stadium expansion plan considered achievable.

Con: Orlando City SC in same market.