Tuesday, January 13, 2009

USL in Detroit?

A new article in Crain’s Detroit Business (login required) highlights how Detroit-area minor league sports franchises are trying to weather the economic storm and operate in the Detroit market. Within that article was a surprising new twist on the front of a potential soccer franchise in Detroit:

“Dan Duggan, who co-owns the Michigan Bucks soccer team in Pontiac, is meeting with investors over the next 90 days as part of a $7 million plan to launch a top-tier Detroit affiliate of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

That translates into a $2 million investment to start the team, which could be moved from Europe, and to build a $5 million 5,000-seat outdoor stadium.

“I'm willing to do that because it's not about making money,” said Duggan, who is president of sales for Health-Mor Inc. in suburban Cleveland.”

The fact that Duggan is soliciting investors for a new team that will likely play in the First Division of the United Soccer League (or at the very worst, in USL-2) is an encouraging sign for Detroit soccer fans. It would be the first major step to proving the viability of a Detroit team in MLS. Also, the trends over the past couple of years have been that cities that already have USL teams have been more in the mix than cities without teams, with the exception of Philadelphia and Toronto. Dan Duggan, whose Michigan Bucks play in the USL’s Premier Development League, has long tried to solicit investors for a MLS franchise in Detroit, but having a USL team would be great as well. It would be a chance for Detroit fans to build a fanbase while supporting a team in the top level of USL soccer. Detroit is an area that has heavy participation in soccer among all ages, and it has a supporters club that is growing by the day and making noise. The next 3 months will be an important one for a potential USL team in Detroit. We will stay tuned to see what happens.

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