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Plans unveiled for a US$1bn investment in Detroit’s Wayne County for a 25,000-seat MLS stadium and other developments

Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, and Detroit Pistons executive Arn Tellem, have revealed plans for a US$1bn investment at Wayne County’s unfinished jail site for a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and other developments, including restaurants, hotel rooms and a commercial office tower.

Any chance of Detroit landing an expansion MLS franchise is contingent on Wayne County’s unfinished jail site being used as the site for a 20,000-25,000 soccer-specific stadium.

ROSSETTI’s proposal transforms an important area of downtown Detroit into an active and healthy destination for a diverse mix of sports, entertainment, hospitality and retail. The design reflects a commitment to enhancing the public realm, balancing open pedestrian space and connectivity to adjacent areas and creating a world-class urban environment for the city.

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, with the acknowledgement of MLS Commissioner Don Garber, commissioned ROSSETTI to develop the plan.

MLS Detroit Stadium_Bowl Shot_ROSSETTI

Led by the addition of a dynamic 20,000-seat MLS stadium as a catalyst, the proposed project also includes a training facility, a podium for commerce and recreation, four towers containing hotel, residential and office space, and parking structures anchor the development.

During the press conference at the ROSSETTI offices, representatives from the stakeholders discussed the potential vision, impact and connectivity the project could bring to the city. Positioned as a 50-, 60- or 70-year decision, the project currently is at an ‘inflection point’ to determine whether Detroit should have a major sports and entertainment project or a jail at the front door of downtown.

MLS Detroit Stadium_Street View_ROSSETTI

The design drivers for the project are placemaking, connectivity, porosity and vibrancy, with the synergistic mix of uses facilitating this site to become the major anchor for Detroit’s burgeoning 300-acre entertainment district. Focusing on the need to restore and repair the city’s infrastructure, ROSSETTI’s emphasis on connectivity will weave together disparate areas and bridge the centre of downtown at Campus Martius with the Eastern Market, one of the city’s most popular destinations, along the Gratiot corridor.

MLS Detroit_Press Conference_ROSSETTI

Matt Rossetti, CEO and President of ROSSETTI, said:

Central to the project’s design is porosity and creating an uninterrupted experience between the public realm and physical buildings. In it, we explore how to unite cities with nature, people with habitats, sports with culture. We endeavour to have all anchor developments facilitating pedestrian movement horizontally and vertically through a ‘green belt’ podium.

The podium will be open to the public at all levels from the ground up to the park-like setting along the rooftop nature trail, an 8-10 block continuous elevated greenspace that connects all four towers. New civic plazas defined by movement and a combination of hard and soft surfaces will offer year-round programming and spaces for civic gathering. The energy generated from the interconnected development will result in a vibrant district, with public uses spilling out onto the streets and rooftops of Detroit and continuing the vitality and momentum that the city is currently generating locally, regionally and internationally.


The project’s next steps involve further discussions between the City of Detroit, Wayne County, Rock Ventures, Platinum Equity, the MLS and other stakeholders to develop a solution that resolves the needs of the criminal justice system and the vision for this new district.


PROJECT NAME: Detroit MLS Stadium and District
CLIENT: An investor partner group spearheaded by Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert
SIZE: 15-acre urban site


MLS STADIUM: 20,000 seats
PODIUM: including restaurants, retails, fitness, spa and conference centre
TOWERS: including 30-storey hotel/residential tower, 24-storey residential tower, 18-storey office tower and 12-storey office tower
PARKING: for 5,400 cars
LEAD DESIGNERS: Matt Rossetti, Dan Soleski, Nick Moriarty, John Bigtacion, Joe Donelko


Founded in 1969 and based in Detroit, ROSSETTI is a boutique 85-person sports and entertainment design firm with an international portfolio of innovative arenas, stadia, training centres and a variety of creative hospitality, workplace, public realm and mixed-use developments.

The Practice’s portfolio includes five Major League Soccer (MLS) stadiums – more than any other architecture firm.

ROSSETTI’s most recent projects include the world’s first motorsports stadium for Daytona International Speedway; a 10-year master plan to transform the United States Tennis Association’s 46-acre campus into a cohesive ‘Sports Spectacle’, including the re-design of Arthur Ashe Stadium which will open for the 2016 US Open and feature the largest retractable roof of any tennis venue in the world*, and the new headquarters and training centre for the LA Lakers in El Segundo, CA.


Since 1996, ROSSETTI has planned, designed and built successful soccer stadiums that take advantage of their context, views, real estate and fan experience to create the first economically-advantageous mid-sized venues. The firm’s experience includes StubHub Center for California State University, an Olympic training campus and the second largest MLS stadium (2003); Toyota Park outside of Chicago (2006); Rio Tinto situated in Utah’s mountain ranges (2008); Red Bull Arena in New Jersey (2010); and PPL Park in Pennsylvania, which addresses its urban context and offers river views. Internationally, ROSSETTI has planned, designed and built two MLS soccer stadiums in Stockholm, Sweden, and Incheon, South Korea, with several feasibility and conceptual design studies for additional sports and entertainment venues across Korea.


Images courtesy: ROSSETTI