While it's apparently true that Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert are interested in Detroit having a professional soccer team of its own
as part of Major League Soccer's expansion plans, we've had soccer for some time now.
Just look at last year's MT cover story
about the rise of our very own grassroots soccer team: Detroit City Futbol Club, which for five years has proven that soccer can attract crowds of young, enthusiastic fans. Given the kind of fanatic following the DCFC has drawn, it probably was only a matter of time before our filthy rich business leaders figured the time was finally right for a soccer bonanza.
Or maybe not. It's quite possible that our billionaires could field a Detroit soccer team only to find their stadium seats empty. It has happened before
. And if the big money figures it's an easy score, maybe they should think again. DCFC, for instance, is a community-supported sport in a way most American pro sports can never be. Fantastically wealthy people may be able to snap their fingers and conjure a team into existence, but they can't necessarily make people care or want to be fans.
In fact, we received the following statement from the media director of Detroit City Futbol Club that seems to understand those realities. See if it doesn't ring true to you about why DCFC has succeeded. It goes like this:
Detroit City FC has had initial contact with the interested parties regarding the possibility of Major League Soccer in Detroit, and we look forward to carrying on more conversations with those groups as the soccer scene evolves.
We have always believed that for soccer to live up to its full potential in southeast Michigan, a team must be connected to the community and focused on soccer supporter culture. The founding of a professional team is a golden opportunity, but in an already crowded market, success is never guaranteed.
As stewards of the local soccer community, our ownership group will continue to do all that we can to ensure professional soccer in Detroit stays true to the model that the supporters and fans of Detroit City FC have come to expect.
Detroit City FC has proven that a soccer team can be viable and successful in downtown Detroit. We see today’s development as further proof that others around the country are taking notice of our many successes and of the potential of the Detroit market. After 40 years of teams trying to establish a presence downtown with little success, Detroit City FC has shown that, when done right, soccer has a viable future in our city.
The key difference has been our approach in building an organization that values grassroots support and strong ties to our community. In five years, Detroit City FC and our supporters have:
• Invested nearly one million dollars into the renovation of our new home, Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, through the largest community investment campaign in Michigan history.
• Contributed thousands of dollars to support youth soccer in Detroit, teenage homelessness, veterans awareness and many other small businesses and service organizations working to make our community a better place.
• Created the most exciting atmosphere in Detroit sports while fielding a winning team on the pitch.
• Developed a brand that is recognized by soccer fans across the world.
• Fostered one of the most active, creative and loyal supporter groups in the US.
• Been profiled by national and international media as one of the most compelling stories in US soccer.
• Tuned in, by the thousands, to our livestream of matches, from over 50 countries.
While we haven't heard it yet, we're waiting for some overly excited sports commentator to declare that Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores are bringing soccer to Detroit.