Uniquely Detroit: Keyworth Stadium
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – The Detroit City Football Club has the most passionate fan base not just in the city or the state, but maybe the country.
The semi-professional team that competes in the National Premier Soccer League has been around for four seasons and has called the field at Cass Tech High School its home.
Their support has grown exponentially each season. They consistently draw crowds (@NGSDetroit) well over Cass Tech's capacity of 3,000.
So what's the chapter for Le Rouge?A bigger home to accommodate their growing fan base.
They've chosen Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. It was built in 1936.
I recently had a chance to check out the stadium with co-owner Sean Mann and two members of the Northern Guard Supporters, Sean Grogan and Kirk Vangilder.
"Simply put, they don't make stadiums like this anymore," Mann said.
The team is partnering with Sidewalk Ventures LLC, MichiganFunders and Hamtramck Public Schools to raise a minimum of $400,000 to complete the renovation of the 79-year-old stadium. Their goal is $700,000and they have already raised more than $300,000.
"You know what I see is, in a few months, this is going to be the most exciting sporting atmosphere in this city and maybe the country," Mann said. "This is the purest of public-private partnerships. We're leveraging private funds to improve a public facility."
Why are Mann and the other team owners excited about this renovation project?
"One, we're saving a piece of Detroit history. We're going to keep growing out soccer club. Also, I think this has a real tangible impact on the community," Mann said.
Keyworth Stadium will remain the property of Hamtramck Public Schools and their sports team will continue to use the stadium. Detroit City FC will retain the right to host 25 games and community events throughout the year over the course of a 10-year lease.
The campaign is the largest of its kind in Michigan history. Upon the first phase of renovation the stadium, capacity will be 6,000.
Michigan residents are eligible to contribute and invest in the project. This isn't just a simple crowd funding effort, It's an investment. Supporters will receive all of their money back plus interest.
"It's in a state of disrepair right now. Concrete is sort of crumbling, the bleachers are a little falling apart." Grogan said.
Planned improvements include all of the bleachers coming out of the future supporters section. No more chanting and jumping up and down on flimsy aluminum for the Northern Guard.
The concrete will also be resurfaced. The bathrooms and locker rooms will be updated and repaired. A new sound system will be installed. Immediate repairs will be done to the turf with the ultimate goal of installing natural grass within a few years.
"Hopefully, this will last for generations to come because of the improvements we are making in this facility," Mann said.
Keyworth Stadium has a lot going for it, including that all concrete base and a playing field WITHOUT a track around it which means fans will be closer to the action.
"You really feel like you're right on top of what's going on," Vangilder said. "What's great about this stadium and this site is that it really gives a bit of a European feel to where you'll be in a neighborhood and then right in the smack dab middle of it is a stadium."
Copyright 2016 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.