With Detroit among the possibilities for an MLS expansion team in 2020, the Lions are looking at ways they can make Ford Field work for soccer.
And that includes the possibility of retrofitting their stadium with a retractable roof.
Lions team president Rod Wood said during an interview on WJR-AM that they’re looking at their options, since MLS teams have to play outdoors and teams prefer grass surfaces. He said he’s discussing the project with NBA owner Dan Gilbert and his group which is bidding for the Detroit franchise, along with local basketball executive Arm Tellem.
“Building another stadium makes no sense with the three that we have,” Wood said, via the Detroit Free Press. “I think there’s a purist wing in the MLS and they like to play on grass, they like to play outside. They have preferred smaller stadiums, although the two most successful franchises play in football stadiums, in Atlanta and Seattle. They regularly draw 40, 50, 60,000 fans and I think we might have a shot at doing the same thing downtown.
“With all the vibrancy downtown and all the young people now working downtown that love soccer, and coming off the World Cup where everybody was very interested in what’s going on. It’d be great to have that downtown, but we’ll see about the roof.”
There is that one big problem which has to be discussed.
“We’ll figure out who’s going to pay for it after we figure out the cost,” Wood said.
That’s probably going to range in the hundreds of millions.
They’re not the only NFL facility eying the MLS, as new Panthers owner David Tepper has mentioned the soccer league in both his press conferences since buying the team. It also gives the Lions options for their own games, at least for the ones early enough in the season that anyone might want to enjoy the elements.