Pistons, Cavaliers owners teaming up to bring MLS to Detroit
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert are joining forces to try to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Detroit, MLS confirmed on Tuesday.
Gores and Gilbert, who has deep Michigan roots, have been quietly working together for months in pursuit of an expansion MLS club for the city of Detroit, sources told ESPN.com.
The bid, sources say, has the support of MLS commissioner Don Garber and includes plans for a new soccer stadium in downtown Detroit at a site to be determined.
Both owners hinted at their MLS plays on Tuesday with tweets they aimed at each other.
Hey @TomGores, you know what's great about sports? One moment you're rivals & the next day, you can be rooting for the same team...- Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) April 26, 2016
On Sunday, Gilbert's Cavaliers swept Gore's Pistons out of the first round of the NBA playoffs.
They issues a joint statement later on Tuesday, saying: "Detroit is rising and we know firsthand the power of sports to lift a community and drive a civic renaissance.
"We are very excited about the prospect of bringing Major League Soccer to Detroit and building an ownership group that represents a cross-section of investors."
Garber will be in Detroit on Wednesday for meetings with the ownership group, with a press conference set for 1:30 pm ET.
"I've always believed a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people," Gores said. "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."
At a meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors last week, Garber said St. Louis and Sacramento were at the front of the line for the league's next round of expansion but added that other worthy candidates, in order of priority, were Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin and Cincinnati.
The NBA's San Antonio Spurs are the new owners of United Soccer League franchise San Antonio FC in the third tier of North American soccer -- below MLS and the North American Soccer League -- and, according to NBA sources, are hopeful that their soccer club will be moved into MLS down the road.
In a recent visit to Sacramento, Garber announced that envisions MLS expanding to 28 teams. The league currently houses 20 clubs, with four more slots already committed to Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, David Beckham's Miami group and a second franchise in Los Angeles.
LAFC also has NBA ties, headed by Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber, and it features a diverse group of ownership partners that includes Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, actor Will Ferrell, former baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, U.S. women's soccer legend Mia Hamm Garciaparra and Warriors executives Rick Welts and Kirk Lacob as well as ESPN NBA analyst Tom Penn.