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Retractable Roof at Ford Field? It’s Being Explored for MLS


Adding a retractable roof to the Detroit Lions‘ Ford Field is being considered by Detroit MLS expansion bid leaders, who are hoping to place a club in the facility.  

Last fall, a concept was unveiled to renovate Ford Field to accommodate an MLS club. It was part of an MLS expansion bid backed by Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, owners the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, respectively, and was implemented to replace a previous proposal that called for a new soccer-specific stadium in downtown Detroit. The Ford Field pitch also called for the Ford family–owner of the Lions–to be added to the MLS club’s ownership.

Detroit made a slate of four finalists considered by MLS in December, only to lose out to Nashville and later Cincinnati–two bids that included proposals for new soccer-specific stadiums. For the next round of expansion, Detroit is looking for ways to modify its Ford Field proposal to make it more enticing to MLS, and one of those options could be renovating the fixed-roof stadium to install a retractable roof. Gilbert mentioned this possibility in a recent interview with SportsBusiness Daily, and a spokesperson for the Pistons confirmed that it is one of the many possibilities being reviewed. However, many details are still being explored, including feasibility and cost. More from The Detroit News:

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, founder of Quicken Loans, and one of the proposed owners of an MLS franchise in the city, revealed the idea in an interview with Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily.

“It’s one of many options being explored,” Kevin Grigg, a spokesman for the Pistons, confirmed.

However, Grigg emphasized that a myriad of potential options are under review, early in an ongoing process that is expected to take some time.

According to the trade publication, Gilbert said his executives are meeting with officials from Ford Field to determine the cost and feasibility.

Although soccer-specific stadiums have become more common in MLS over the years, the league does have a few success stories in shared NFL stadiums, including in Atlanta and Seattle. Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in particular would seem to be a model for Detroit, as the retractable-roof facility opened last year and has been a major factor in Atlanta United FC’s success in setting attendance records.

Adding a retractable roof to Ford Field could make it more closely resemble Atlanta in terms of specifications, though the cost and feasibility will surely be major factors in determining whether it moves forward. Sister site Soccer Stadium Digest has closely followed Detroit’s MLS expansion bid, along with proposals from competing cities.

Rendering courtesy Rossetti.

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August Publications