If the city of Detroit, Michigan, isn’t the perfect market for a spring outdoor alternative professional football league team, it sure is close.
Detroit blends the key demographics any new sports league would look for – market size (11th–largest television market in the United States, according to Nielsen), plenty of potential venues for a team and a strong spring outdoor alternative pro football background.
Where might a potential new spring outdoor alternative pro football league team in Detroit play? There are plenty of choices, only two which are obvious:
- The obvious choices for a Detroit-based football team would be Ford Field and the Silverdome. Ford Field has been the home of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions since 2002, and the FieldTurf-surface stadium has a capacity of 65,000. Ford Field also hosts college football bowl games and Michigan high school football championship games. The Silverdome, 30 minutes away from downtown Detroit in Pontiac, Michigan, was the home of the Lions for many years before their move to Ford Field. It still plays host to events throughout the year, and no other indoor stadium in the Midwest can play host to more than 80,000 people.
- Wayne State University, a Division II institution in Detroit, has Tom Adams Field for its football team. That, however, has a capacity of just 6,000.
- Since there are two high-quality venues more than suitable for football in the Detroit area, there would be no reason to try to convert someplace like Comerica Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers, into a football venue.
While Detroit never has a team in either the World League of American Football or the XFL, it had a very successful one in the United States Football League. The Michigan Panthers won the USFL’s first championship by a 24-22 count over the Philadelphia Stars in 1983, and again made the playoffs in 1984. And the Panthers’ attendance was strong in both of their seasons of existence, including averaging more than 32,000 per home game in 1984.
BOTTOM LINE – With a top-15 media market size, two desirable venues to possibly play in and a championship history from three decades ago, Detroit would seem like a natural fit for any new spring outdoor alternative pro football league.