SBD/June 8, 2011/Franchises

Silverdome Owners Submit Application To MLS In Hopes Of Landing Franchise

Renovation plans for Silverdome call for 30,000-seat soccer stadium
Triple Sports & Entertainment has "taken the next formal step toward acquiring an expansion" MLS franchise to play at the Silverdome in Detroit by submitting an application to the league with the "goal of fielding a team in the next few years," according to Josh Hakala of MLIVE.com. Silverdome Dir of Sports Steve Apostolopoulos said, "There is a process that potential ownership has to follow and we're very happy with how things are progressing." MLS next year “will welcome Montreal as its 19th franchise and all efforts are being made to make sure a team based in the Big Apple is next in line.” MLS has “four basic criteria for expansion teams: (1) Committed long-term ownership with deep pockets, (2) Approved plan to build a soccer-specific stadium where the team would control revenue streams such as parking and concessions, (3) A healthy media market and (4) A strong soccer fanbase.” Hakala wrote the Apostolopoulos family “comes in with the first three taken care of, and really the only question is how strong is the soccer fanbase in Metro Detroit?” TSE “made headlines in the Fall of 2009 with the purchase of the vacant Silverdome in a private auction for the bargain price of $583,000.” Company officials “announced they had plans to revive the stadium and to acquire an MLS franchise to play in it.” The Apostolopoulos family “plans to remove the dome and divide the stadium into three sections.” At the stadium's ground level will be a “convention center/concert hall as well as a multi-purpose arena, capable of hosting hockey, basketball, and other indoor sports.” Resting “on top of those two indoor facilities, will be a roughly 30,000-seat outdoor soccer stadium with natural grass.” The current upper deck will “essentially act as a lower bowl for the outdoor stadium” (MLIVE.com, 6/7). MLS Dir of Communications Will Kuhns said that “there have been ongoing discussions with ‘multiple markets’ but declined to name which ones beyond New York and Detroit.” In Detroit, Barnas & Monarrez note other markets that “have expressed interest” include “south Florida and Atlanta.” Apostolopoulos said, "If a New York deal doesn't go through, we think we'll be next in line" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/8).
 
A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? On Long Island, John Jeansonne writes last night’s Ecuador-Greece game at Citi Field “hinted at soccer's future in Queens,” where MLS has “indicated it prefers placing its 20th franchise for 2013.” The game drew 39,656 fans, and it “fed the growing belief that the sport long ago became a viable spectator product in the United States.” Mets Owners the Wilpons were among the parties "expressing interest" in an MLS team, at least “before the Bernie Madoff mess and the Mets' For Sale sign” (NEWSDAY, 6/8).
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