On the evening of September 9, 2015, in front of the Hamtramck School Board, Detroit City FC ownership presented a proposal to fund renovation work at Keyworth Stadium, with the intention that the 79-year-old structure would become the team’s home field for the 2016 season and beyond.
The following is a statement from the team giving some background on this potentially historic step in their history. An FAQ offering background on some of the key elements of the plan accompanies the statement.
Detroit City FC was started four years ago because we were looking to create a soccer club that represented our community while bringing the world’s sport to our city. What started with a shoestring budget and some lofty expectations has grown to capture the attention of the soccer world. Local, national, and international publications have reported on the phenomenal rise of Le Rouge as we have developed the most passionate supporters in American soccer and reached the point of consistently drawing sellout crowds at the stadium at Cass Tech High School.
Looking to the next chapter of Detroit City FC, we realize we have reached a point where we need a new facility to continue the growth of the organization. It is our hope that the next home of Detroit City FC be historic Keyworth Stadium. We proposed to partner with the City of Hamtramck and Hamtramck Public Schools to lead a monumental investment in our club and the community, and to provide us an opportunity to create the best matchday atmosphere at any soccer venue in America.
Now our intention is to complete the rehabilitation work at Keyworth Stadium by April of 2016, in time for the upcoming National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season.
– The Detroit City FC Owners
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT KEYWORTH STADIUM
What is Keyworth Stadium?
Keyworth Stadium is a historic sporting venue located in the middle of the city of Hamtramck, which is itself situated in the middle of Detroit. The venue was opened in 1936 as the first Works Progress Administration (WPA) project completed in Michigan. For decades, the stadium has hosted community events, the sports teams of Hamtramck Public Schools and several Catholic schools, and even hosted a match between European soccer clubs Hertha Berlin and Coventry City in the 1960’s. In recent years, use of the stadium has been limited due to its aging condition. There is little doubt that without rehabilitation work in the near future, the stadium’s future viability will be in jeopardy.
It is Detroit City FC’s intention that by making immediate improvements to this historic space, Keyworth Stadium will live on to serve as a focal point in the community for years to come.
Why Keyworth Stadium?
Keyworth represents the best option for the next chapter in the continuing story of Detroit City FC. The stadium gives our club a new home where we can continue our organic, grassroots growth while providing our supporters with the intimate and urban matchday atmosphere that has become the signature of the club.
Why not play at some other stadiums in Detroit?
Detroit City FC is committed to providing our supporters with an intimate matchday atmosphere that allows them to be a part of the action. There does not exist at present moment a stadium that can accommodate our growing fan base and still provide the thrilling environment that our supporters have grown accustomed to, and deserve.
But you are Detroit City FC, how can you leave Detroit?
The owners of DCFC reside in the city of Detroit and are passionate advocates for the city. They started the club as a way to give back to their community. DCFC moving to Hamtramck is not like moving to Pontiac or Auburn Hills. Hamtramck has its own identity and a proud history, but it shares the same never-say-die spirit as Detroit. (Not to mention that Hamtramck, due to the fact that it is entirely surrounded by the city, is in Detroit.) The owners make this move with the confidence that our supporters from the city of Detroit will be able to access our games just as easily at Keyworth as they were able to at our current venue.
What kind of community is Hamtramck?
With a population of approximately 23,000 residents in just over two square miles, Hamtramck is the densest city in the state of Michigan. It became known as the destination for thousands of Polish immigrants in the early 1900’s. Over the years, immigrants from the Middle East, Southern Asia as well as Eastern Europe have joined the Poles to make Hamtramck the most diverse city in our state. As varied as the population is, the many ethnicities in Hamtramck share a passion for the sport of soccer.
What improvements are being proposed to Keyworth?
Detroit City FC plans to create an extraordinary stadium atmosphere through the following improvements: Make urgent structural improvements to the west (press box side) grandstand and repair all the wooden bleachers to allow for complete access throughout; update and rehabilitate the locker rooms and public restrooms under the west grandstand; repair concrete in the east grandstand to create a traditional standing supporters terrace; repair the field lighting at the stadium to DCFC’s standards, and make immediate grooming of the field turf at the stadium, with intentions to install a grass field in the near future.
What will capacity be at the rehabbed Keyworth?
The initial proposed rehabilitation work completed before the start of the 2016 season will get capacity up to 6,000, with room to grow with future improvements.
How will it be funded?
The rehabilitation work to Keyworth will be funded through a combination of club funds, traditional small business loans, as well as through a groundbreaking community investment campaign that would allow supporters to directly loan money to DCFC and earn interest on that loan as a way to grow their club and community.
How will the community investment campaign work?
Supporters will be given the opportunity to help build DCFC and benefit from our continued growth. Recent state legislation has made it possible for organizations to raise money in a crowdsourcing model, similar to Kickstarter. However, this new model differs in that supporters are invited to make a financial investment and earn a financial return, rather than making a donation or pre-purchasing a product. At a date in the near future, DCFC will announce the terms of this opportunity and invite supporters to participate at tiered levels in a community-sourced “revenue share loan," which will be repaid, with interest, according to the revenues earned by DCFC. This approach will allow the club’s supporters to share in some of the risk and some of the upside of the club’s operations.
To be clear, this will not be an equity offering of ownership in the team, rather this will be an opportunity for individuals and organizations to contribute to the rehabilitation effort, help grow DCFC, and come away with interest on a loan they make to the club.
How does the stadium fit in to Detroit City FC’s future?
Keyworth is the next step in the growth of Detroit City FC. Detroit City FC has been actively working to move up to a higher professional league. When that move takes place, Keyworth is a perfect initial home that will allow us to be financially viable at the professional level.
When will Detroit City FC play in Detroit again?
Our long-term goal is to have a soccer-specific stadium of our own in the city of Detroit. We are continuously having conversations to this end, but it will take years to line up the investments, land, and complete construction before we’ll be able to host a game at a stadium in the city.
What will matchdays at Keyworth be like?
We will work closely with the leadership of our supporters to ensure that the legacy of our Detroit matchday atmosphere will carry on at our new home. As Keyworth is set in the middle of Michigan’s densest community, with dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance, we envision that our matchdays will continue to be an event that would start long before kickoff. Once inside the stadium, a visitor will experience a sporting space the likes of which they just don’t make anymore. Brick and concrete terraces with an intimate seating arrangement will be more reminiscent of European grounds than the metal and plastic high school stadiums we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. Le Rouge supporters will not only experience electrifying action on the field in an unmatched setting, they will also be treated to a wider array of food trucks, concessions, merchandise, and adult beverage tents, all at a scale not conceivable at our current venue.
Where will I park?
We are working with the City of Hamtramck to ensure secure, off-site parking within walking distance of the stadium that will accommodate the easy flow of traffic before and after matches.
Who would own Keyworth after the rehabilitation?
Keyworth Stadium will remain the property of Hamtramck Public Schools. Detroit City FC will retain the right to host a certain amount of games and community events throughout the year through a long-term lease agreement. Hamtramck Public School sports teams will still have regular access to the stadium throughout the year.
Will ticket prices increase to cover the cost of rehabilitating the stadium?
We pride ourselves on providing the most affordable and accessible sporting event in Detroit and that will not change with our move to Keyworth.