Detroit's history with new sports teams
Over the last five decades, Detroit has been a hot spot for new sports team.
With the possibility of a new Major League Soccer team coming to Detroit, let's take a look back at some of the lesser-known teams that started right here in Detroit.
Detroit Express - North American Soccer League - 1978 - 1981 & 1981 - 1983
The Express played at the Pontiac Silverdome, and was owned by famous English soccer pundit Jimmy Hill. The soccer team never won a championship, but averaged about 14,000 fans per game at its peak. The team was moved to Washington in 1981. The team's logo and name were retained by Sonny Van Arnem, who started another Express team in the American Soccer League -- which folded in 1983.
Michigan Panthers - United States Football League - 1983 - 1984
The Panthers joined the USFL in 1982 as a charter team, and only played two seasons before merging with Oakland. The Panthers won the USFL championship in 1983. The team drew large crowds at the Pontiac Silverdome during its short stint, with many games appearing on national television.
Detroit Drive - Arena Football League - 1988 - 1993
The Detroit Drive won four championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1992). The team, owned by Mike Ilitch, was sold after Ilitch's purchase of the Detroit Tigers in 1993. They moved to Massachusetts, but folded after one season. The team played its games at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit Rockers - National Professional Soccer League - 1990 - 2001
The Rockers played in various locations through its existence, including Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Arena and the Palace of Auburn Hills. They won the 1991-1992 NPSL Championship, and folded, along with the NPSL, in 2001. The Ilitch family owned the team from 1992 to 1995.
Detroit Vipers - International Hockey League - 1994 - 2001
The Vipers moved to Detroit from Salt Lake City in 1994. The team won four division championships and one league championship, winning the Turner Cup in 1997. They were owned by William Davidson, who also owned the Detroit Pistons and the Palace of Auburn Hills, where the Vipers played. In 2001, both the Vipers and the IHL folded.
Detroit Fury - Arena Football League - 2001 - 2004
The Fury were owned by William Davidson and William Clay Ford, Jr., son of the Detroit Lions owner at the time. The team only played four seasons, making two playoff appearances before folding in 2004.
Detroit Neon/Safari - Continental Indoor Soccer League - 1994 - 1997
The team played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, but folded, along with the CISL in 1997. They were near the top of the league in attendance during their five seasons.
Detroit Shock - Women's National Basketball Association - 1998 - 2009
The Shock was one of the WNBA's first expansion franchises, starting in 1998. Former Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer coached the team from 2002-2009, winning three championships and four conference titles. The team moved to Tulsa in 2009.
Detroit Turbos - Major Indoor Lacrosse League - 1989 - 1994
The Turbos played at Joe Louis Arena, wearing purple, silver and black. They won a championship in 1991.
Detroit Ignition - Major Indoor Soccer League - 2006 - 2009
The Ignition played a Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. After the MISL folded in 2008, the Ignition joined the Xtreme Soccer League, winning the XSL championship in 2009-09. The XSL folded after one season.
Michigan Stags - World Hockey Association - 1974 - 1975
The Stags played at Cobo Arena, after moving from Los Angeles in 1974. During their one season in Detroit, they finished 5th in their division and missed the playoffs. The team moved to Baltimore in 1975.
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