Comerica turnout buoys Tellem, Detroit MLS bid

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Comerica Park hosted an international match between AS Roma and Paris Saint-Germain last week.

Detroit — There's not much new on the Detroit professional soccer front.

It's mostly a waiting game  waiting on a stadium site to be finalized, waiting on Major League Soccer to decide if Detroit's a fit for an expansion team.

That said, the crowd size and atmosphere for a midweek international friendly at Comerica Park last week seems to have reassured proposed owners Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores that they're on to something.

A crowd of 36,289 attended the match between AS Roma and Paris Saint-Germain last week at Comerica Park.

"It just continues to demonstrate that this is a great soccer market," Arm Tellem, vice chairman of the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment, said Wednesday during a downtown Pistons jersey unveiling.

"Detroit and the State of Michigan have supported every international game. I think we've set records of attendance throughout the years.

"It shows that the critical fan support is here, and now we just have to see how this process unfolds with the MLS."

Gilbert, the billionaire Detroit booster and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Gores, the billionaire owner of the Pistons, submitted their proposal for a team to the MLS in January. The MLS will announce two new franchises later this year, and two more after that, to bring the league total to 28.

Gilbert and Gores haven't yet secured a stadium site, but continue to negotiate over the failed jail plot downtown. That reportedly was the only site proposed in its official pitch to MLS in January.

Proposed stadium seating would be between 20,000 and 25,000, and a soccer stadium would give Detroit a fourth downtown arena.

In the meantime, Detroit City FC, the community-built soccer club that plays in Hamtramck, continues to draw impressive crowds (6,672 for a playoff game Saturday), as many of its fans continue to cringe at the idea of MLS encroaching on what they consider their turf. In perhaps an effort to extend an olive branch, Gilbert and Gores recently sponsored an international friendly involving DCFC.

Palace Sports & Entertainment has bought several domain names involving the name "Detroit City Soccer Club," with all the links now rerouting browsers to the PS&E website. A Pistons spokesman said recently no team name has been decided because, after all, no team has been awarded.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984