Its been no secret that the Apostolopoulos family, owners of the Pontiac Silverdome, want to bring a Major League Soccer team to the Detroit area. Steve Apostolopoulos bought the Silverdome back in 2009 with plans to renovate the entire arena. Plans called for splitting the arena in half horizontally with the top half being an open air soccer stadium and the lower half being used for concerts and other events. Those plans still haven’t come to fruition and more than likely they won’t. In recent articles that have been published by multiple sites and newspapers, Apostolopoulos now has plans of buying the existing jail site that is under construction but has been halted due to the project being grossly over budget. The plans laid out by Apostolopoulos would call for a $1 billion privately funded investment that would include a 25,000 seat soccer stadium, two towers that would house condos, multiple retail and office space. The proposed site plan would be at the corner of Gratiot ave and St. Antoine street, or better known as right across the street from Ford Field.
Detroit has seen a recent influx of properties being bought up and transformed into workable and profitable real estate. Dan Gilbert has been the most involved and has basically bought an entire block of Detroit and has great plans for that space. Gilbert has also expressed interest in buying the recently halted jail site with his eyes set on retail and office space. Gilbert’s plans on that site would come from both private and public funding which Detroit doesn’t need right now. Its no secret that Detroit is in financial distress and subsequently has filed for bankruptcy. Even though the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, that shouldn’t deter any plans that have recently been announced by Mike Illitch for a new arena for his Detroit Red Wings. Even though a good sum of his plans call for public financing, its something that Detroit needs right now. Detroit needs these new investments that would reinvent broken down parts of the city and bring them back and make them vibrant.
I for one would love to see an Major League Soccer team come to Detroit and I would frequent many of their home games because I am a big fan of soccer. Detroit already has a soccer team- Detroit City fc- which draws about 1,300 fans a game that are held at Cass Tech High School. I think that Detroit and the rest of the lower half of Michigan would support the soccer team and would draw a great crowd every home game. Think about what the area surrounding Ford Field and Comerica Park would look like in 5-6 years if this plan goes through. A brand new arena across the highway for the Red Wings with multiple new retail, restaurant, and office space, a brand new soccer stadium with two new towers for condos and more office and retail space. The landscape of Detroit would forever be changed and would be changed for the better. In my opinion, I think the city of Detroit and all of the public officials would be stupid not to approve this proposal laid out by Mr. Apostolopoulos. While its no guarantee that the MLS would approve an expansion team in Detroit, this would give the MLS something to consider and would be very difficult to turn down.