Ever since Don Garber announced that MLS is going to be expanding to 28 teams, cities have been kicking it into gear to land one of those coveted spots. St. Louis, Austin, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati and more are all sending wooing letters to the commissioner and leaving saucy voicemails, hoping to coax the next team to their fair city.
Detroit is too. With Detroit Piston’s owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Caveliers owner Dan Gilbert teaming up to fund the investment of a MLS team.
Sounds like it’s all well and good. But it’s not. In case you haven’t been reading the news, the story goes that Detroit City FC, an amateur team that plays in the National Premier Soccer League, is less than keen to welcome a blossoming league into their midst. And it has nothing to do with jealousy. It simply has to do with the divide that it is already causing.
According to the Detroit News, while Gores, Gilbert and Garber (sounds like a lawfirm) have been working together to get the proposed ‘failed jail’ stadium location squared away, Detroit City FC has been left completely alone. No one has reached out to the heavily-represented club. In a recent press conference with Gores and Gilbert, not a single member of the organization was invited.
It’s as if these two NBA owners are just hoping that if they ignore it, it will all go away. But that is just making things worse.
Supporters of Detroit City FC are rather perturbed that this proposed MLS bid is completely ignoring the well-established soccer base that the city already has. The club draws fantastic crowds, they are rowdy, they have sponsors, they make good money – and it’s all on an amateur basis. That’s proof that the city can keep an MLS team afloat.
But why are they being ignored? Some of it undoubtedly has to do with the fact that the NPSL is in no way affiliated with MLS and, given that it is manned by a bunch of players who have 9-5 jobs, would not be a candidate to turn into an MLS squad themselves. But aside from that, the cold shoulder is inexplicable and it is worrisome. Some supporters are considering protesting the move with t-shirts.
One supporter even bought the domain name MLS2Detroit.com and redirected it to the Detroit City FC home page. Crafty.
This is an obstacle that MLS has not had to face before. Mainly because they have been so accommodating of established teams. Which makes this Detroit thing an anomaly.
Think of St. Louis. St. Louis FC is already a club in the USL, but the owner, Jim Cavanaugh, is an active member of MLS2STL, the group spearheading the expansion bid for the city.
There is nothing like that in Detroit.
Most of the five owners of Detroit City FC are leery of the bid and want to see where it goes, but they are clearly perturbed by the lack of communication that Gores, Gilbert and MLS have had with them.
Protests are never a good thing. If Detroit is already facing protests with this potential MLS bid, something the league has not faced before, then another city could very well sneak in and filch the expansion spot.