Two rival NBA owners are teaming up to bring Major League Soccer to Detroit, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores, the founders of Quicken Loans and Platinum Equity, respectively, are working on a plan to build a stadium and bring an MLS franchise to the city. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports their bid has the early support of MLS commissioner Don Garber. The league confirmed the bid team via press release on behalf of the prospective owners on Tuesday, adding that Garber will be visiting Detroit with Gilbert and Gores on Wednesday.
"I’ve always believed a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people," Gores said in the release. "I’m excited to partner with Dan and help in Detroit’s resurgence. Together we have all the tools we need to make a new team successful."
Added Gilbert: “Soccer is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world with a passionate fan base and global reach. Bringing a team downtown will also further energize Detroit’s urban core, which is critical to the entire city’s overall health and vibrancy.”
Gilbert has invested heavily in property and urban development in Detroit. Gores is the owner of Palace Sports and Entertainment, the Pistons’ parent company which also operates the team’s arena.
Gilbert and Gores traded tweets on Tuesday afternoon, alluding to the Cavaliers’ recent first-round sweep of the Pistons in the NBA playoffs and hinting that the two could be teaming up.
The Free Press reports Gores will likely lead the team and that Gilbert will focus on obtaining the land for an arena. Garber said earlier this month that Detroit was on MLS’s list of preferred expansion cities.
Atlanta and Minnesota are due for new teams in 2017, with Los Angeles and Miami also expected to get teams in 2018. Sacramento and St. Louis have been touted by Garber as leading the pack for the next wave of teams, with the league stating it will expand to 28 franchises.