We’re currently in the “dead zone” of the NPSL offseason – more than two months have passed since Chattanooga fell to the Red Bulls U-23’s in this year’s title game, and there are still several weeks to go before everyone’s favorite time of the year when expansion talk heats up.
There is, however, a bit of news that involves Detroit City FC, and it comes via the latest edition of the Hamtramck Review:
I’d never heard of Keyworth Stadium until I read this article, but with its emergence as a potential future home for DCFC, I naturally decided to do some research.
Background information from Detroitpix:
Keyworth was named after Dr. Maurice R. Keyworth, [Hamtramck] Superintendent of Schools in 1923. Work on the stadium began in May, 1935. FDR was there for the opening ceremony on October 15, 1936, because it was the first WPA project completed in the Detroit area.
The stadium is located on Roosevelt Street in Hamtramck and is currently used (I think) for local schools’ football and soccer games.
Capacity is listed at 7000, double that of Cass. This would obviously provide room for attendance growth, and it’s of a “not TOO big” size where we could reasonably envision filling it one day in the not-too-distant future.
Field Size Going by Google Earth, the current soccer lines on the field measure 120 x 65 yards. This would be an improvement over Cass Tech’s narrow field (roughly 110 x 55), but would remain a bit short of the professional standard. For comparison: Anfield (110 x 74), Old Trafford (115 x 74), Camp Nou (116 x 77), Sporting Park (120 x 75).
Aesthetics There is no track around the field, which is a huge plus for the potential atmosphere. The stadium’s age, its concrete terraces, and its non-corporate name also give it a lot of character and a bit of old-timey mystique. Also, the “Dirty Old Town” factor is especially high – train tracks run along the south side of the stadium, and this is what sits across them:
I don’t know what they make, or more likely made there, but when I hear that gas works wall line, that’s about what I envision.
No TV Bar Self-explanatory.
Location Here is where Keyworth sits relative to Cass Tech:
In my opinion, the location is far from ideal. Part of what makes DCFC special is its “heart of the city” vibe. Q.E.D.:
I should also point out that Keyworth is technically not in the city of Detroit. Playing in Hamtramck would not be nearly as bad as playing in Pontiac or Auburn Hills, but it would still be a minus in my book.
Cost & Ownership $1 million! for the field replacement alone. Add in probable upgrades to the locker rooms, bathrooms, and concessions (not to mention possible structural restoration), and the price tag gets even higher. It would likely be cheaper than building a new stadium from scratch, but at the end of day, after all that investment, the school district would still retain ownership.
Logistics The big issues are that the stadium is a bit of a drive from any major freeways, and that there doesn’t appear to be a lot of parking since it sits in a residential neighborhood. On the plus side, there do appear to be a few bars within reasonable marching distance – New Dodge Lounge, Painted Lady, and Motor City Sports Bar are all located on nearby Campau Avenue.
With DCFC on the verge of outgrowing Cass Tech, if they haven’t already, it’s great to see ownership being proactive in the search for a new venue. Taking all available information into consideration, I don’t think Keyworth Stadium is the right fit. The size is perfect, and the old-school look and feel are great, but I think the high cost, non-ownership, and less-than-ideal location outweigh the potential benefits.
My feeling is that since the improvements to Keyworth would cost well in excess of $1 million and the club would only be a tenant when all is said and done, it would be better to spend that money on a venue that could be available for purchase or on a site with the potential for new construction.
On the other hand, it may be the strategy of DCFC ownership to make an immediate investment to enable growth while keeping away from a long-term commitment. By renting Keyworth, they would avoid the burdens of paying for maintenance and upkeep, permanent security, and property taxes, among other costs. If all goes well and the crowds and revenue continue to grow over the next several seasons, they would then be free to explore the possibility of new stadium construction without having to offload their current one.
The potential move to Hamtramck is only in the preliminary stages, and a lot could happen in the next year or two that it would take to make the stadium ready for play. I’m sure other options have been and will be explored, and I’ll be following all the developments as they come.