Dan Gilbert’s Cleveland Cavaliers just eliminated Tom Gores’ Detroit Pistons from the 2016 NBA Playoffs. But the two owners were working side by side on Wednesday afternoon — and had been doing so secretly for months — in an attempt to bring an expansion team from the MLS to Detroit. While it’s far from a done deal, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber liked what he saw at the press conference. Detroit is now a leading contender to host one of the four MLS expansion teams not yet committed to a city.
The MLS could expand from 20 to 28 teams by 2020, and would likely consider the league “fully expanded” at that time.
Gilbert & Gores: secretly making plans
The MLS commissioner was in Detroit for the press conference, held by a team of investors fronted by NBA coaches Gilbert and Gores on Wednesday. Plans were revealed for a potential stadium (and development in the area) in Detroit that would be home to a Major League Soccer franchise in the near future.
As ESPN reported, the owners had been working together quietly for months to put the bid together. That means that during the week in which the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals, the two coaches would have been putting the final pieces together for this press conference.
In fact, just yesterday, Gilbert tweeted a hint about the whole thing to Gores.
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
And of course, Gores shot a tweet right back. No hard feelings from the NBA Playoffs, apparently.
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How many teams are in the MLS?
Major League Soccer currently has 20 teams. By comparison, there are 32 teams in the National Football League, 30 teams in Major League Baseball, 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, and 30 in the National Hockey League.
The first season of MLS was in 1996 and featured 10 teams.
How many teams are being added to the MLS?
Eventually, MLS would like to add eight more teams for a total of 28. While that may seem like a big jump, the MLS would still have fewer teams than the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL.
While the MLS would like to add a total of eight more teams, four have already been spoken for. By 2020, new MLS clubs will arrive in Minneapolis, Atlanta, a second team in Los Angeles, and a team in Miami, owned by a group of investors that includes David Beckham.
The meeting in Detroit
As explained by the Detroit Free Press, the MLS expansion plans for Detroit call for a new stadium to be built where a jail was supposed to be built, but the project was never completed. The total cost of the proposed upgrade to the area is roughly $1 billion.
A closer look at a proposed MLS development in Detroit. https://t.co/Av5zXH8xpy— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 27, 2016
While barely a consideration before the press conference, Garber noted that Detroit is now one of the top choices for the four remaining teams. Other top contenders for the MLS expansion teams include San Antonio, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Austin.
[Photo credit Jamie Sabau/Getty Images]