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4/28/2016 7:47 am  #1

Soccer stadium's approval, funding unclear

Soccer stadium's approval, funding unclear

A pair of Detroit business giants want to build a Major League Soccer stadium at the gateway of the city’s downtown, but exactly how the nearly $1 billion field of dreams will become reality remains unknown.Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who has teamed with Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores, on Wednesday unveiled what he called a “better alternative” for the “front door” of Detroit’s downtown at the site of a failed Wayne County jail project at Gratiot near Interstate 375.“We feel we can move this fast as needs to be moved,” Gilbert said. “We are at a fork in the road. This is a major decision for downtown.”The vision calls for a 25,000-seat stadium as the centerpiece of a project that would feature retail and residential units, a hotel and covered parking and plazas. But the project’s cost breakdown, timetable and chance of approval from Wayne County officials are unclear.

Gilbert introduced the plan during a news conference that included MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who noted the jail site as being a “a very key part” of the Detroit plan. The announcement comes a day after the Gores-owned Platinum Equity and Gilbert-owned Rock Ventures issued a joint press release touting their intentions to add a Detroit franchise to the 20-team pro league.The league hasn’t made a formal commitment yet to Detroit but said the city is one of seven being considered as the league continues with its expansion.“The home that we are really excited about is the jail site,” Garber told reporters. “We’re intrigued by what the possibilities can be with that.”

Gilbert has been trying to buy the 15.5-acre jail site from Wayne County since 2013. Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Wednesday he’s far from signing a deal to sell the property.“My position now is consistent with what it has always been,” said Evans, who in recent weeks has said a solution for the jail project is close and the county would finish construction on the existing site. Finishing the jail at its current site, he said, continues to be the least expensive option.“The new proposal can’t cost Wayne County taxpayers any more than the completion of this project, and we can’t slow the train down,” Evans told The Detroit News. “It’s already been sitting there for three years.”Construction on the $220 million project began in 2011, under then-County Executive Bob Ficano. The 2,000-bed project near the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice was later halted in June 2013 after $100 million in overruns and charges of corruption.

County officials estimate it costs about $1.3 million a month to have the half-finished jail sitting unused in Greektown. The proposed development site is bounded by Gratiot, Chrysler Service Drive, Macomb and Beaubien.Three years ago, Gilbert offered the county $50 million for the unfinished jail, the current jail and the adjacent juvenile detention center. County officials have said that the Gilbert offer wasn’t enough money to cover the taxpayer’s losses.The proposal unveiled Wednesday suggests the county should relocate the current jail, the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and the county’s juvenile detention facility to a former state prison on Mound.

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident,”  former vice president Biden said during a campaign event in Texas on Monday. "All men and women created by — you know, you know, the thing.”


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