The Detroit Ignition played three seasons of indoor soccer at the 3,800-seat Compuware Arena in suburban Plymouth, Michigan between 2006 and 2009. The Ignition originated as an expansion franchise in the wobbly Major Indoor Soccer League in April 2006 and finished their run in the winter of 2008-09 as champions of a silly “lifestyle brand” called the Xtreme Soccer League.
Detroit entrepeneur John Hantz owned the Ignition and his Hantz Group advertised itself as the club’s jersey sponsor. Hantz owned an array of insurance and financial services companies. His sports group subsidiary dabbled in auto racing in addition to indoor soccer.
The club’s best known player was Major League Soccer (MLS) veteran Jamar Beasley, who played with the Ignition during the first two seasons of the team in the MISL. In 1998, Beasley became the first high school player ever to jump directly to MLS, signing with the New England Revolution at the age of 18.
Beasley won MISL MVP honors with the Ignition in the club’s inaugural season of 2006-07, helping the Ignition to a league best record of 18-12. The Ignition hosted the Philadelphia Kixx in the MISL Championship Game on April 21st, 2007 in a nationally televised game on the Versus cable network. The Kixx defeated the Ignition 13-8, disappointing a capacity crowd at Compuware Arena.
Following the Ignition’s second season in the winter of 2007-08, the Major Indoor Soccer League folded. The move was more of a procedural matter than a declaration of insolvency. The MISL’s nine franchises all desired to keep playing in one form or another, but the chronically unstable league had a number of stockholders from dormant franchises that it wanted to sweep out the door. Folding the league was apparently the easiest way to do so.
After the MISL folded, the teams split off into three different offshoot leagues. The Ignition wound up in the strangest of the bunch – the Xtreme Soccer League – along with the Chicago Storm, Milwaukee Wave, New Jersey Ironmen and Philadelphia Kixx.
The gimmick of the XSL was that it was not really a league at all. It was a “new interactive sports lifestyle” and a “12-month experience built around skilled soccer professionals, entertainment and fan participation – both live and online.”
Sounds exhausting! What all this embarassing mumbo jumbo added up to here on Earth was that the players had to play some (Xtreme!) beach soccer exhibitions in the summer time.
The Ignition won the first and only XSL title by virtue of having the best regular season record at 12-8. There were no playoffs for the four-team league. Ignition goalkeeper Danny Waltman played all 20 games and earned league MVP honors.
The Ignition folded along with the Xtreme Soccer League in the summer of 2009.
As of early 2012, most of the Detroit Ignition’s official website is still online at www.detroitignition.com.
After the Ignition folded, John Hantz turned his attention to urban agriculture and has proposed a $30 million investment over ten years to convert Detroit’s vast acreage of abandoned lots into cutting edge commercial farms.