Detroit MLS group's study favors soccer stadium over jail at proposed downtown site

Wednesday April 5th, 2017

MLS hopefuls in Detroit are also waiting on a decision. The stadium plan put forward by NBA owners Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores is part of a $1.88 billion proposal. It hinges on constructing a new $420 million jail and justice center for the city in exchange for the piece of downtown property on which a half-finished jail currently sits. And it requires Wayne County’s approval.

In January, the Detroit Free Press reported that the county was targeting May for a ruling. Last month, the principal of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures, Matt Cullen, told The Detroit News that the group is responding to queries from the county.

“We owe them some updated information, kind of in the May-June time frame. And I would expect we’ll have a lot of clarity for them by that time,” Cullen said. “They’ll want to know, at that time, what control we have over the site [for the new jail].”

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On Tuesday, Rock Ventures released a study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Sport & Policy, that claims the proposed stadium and mixed-use development on the downtown site would generate a $2.39 billion economic impact and create 2,106 permanent jobs. In contrast, simply completing the half-finished jail would create only $352 million in economic impact, the study said. The construction phase on the two sites alone would result in an estimated $51.9 million in tax revenue for Michigan and the city of Detroit. The permanent jobs would add an additional $6.4 million, and property taxes eventually would reach $46.7 million annually.

Rock Ventures commissioned the study. The only public funds Gilbert and Gores are requesting are the $300 million that would have been spent anyway on completing the downtown jail.

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