Keyworth Proposal: The Details

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This morning, DCFC ownership released the main points of their plan regarding the impending move of the club to Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. Among the highlights:

What improvements are being proposed to Keyworth?
Detroit City FC proposes 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.

When the club began play at Cass Tech in 2012, the bulk of the work put into the stadium went into rehabilitating the field, which was in pretty rough shape at the time. Keyworth is much more of a fixer-upper, as it will require serious renovations to the structure itself, including extensive concrete work. It remains to be seen which aspects of construction will be completed in time for next season, and which will be ongoing throughout the year and into 2017. Having to play on field turf for a year would definitely be a bit of a bummer.

What will capacity be at the rehabbed Keyworth?
The initial proposed rehabilitation work completed before the start of the 2016 season would get capacity up to 6,000, with room to grow with future improvements.
With crowds this season pushing the 4000 mark, 6000 provides room for growth without putting pressure on supporters to fill up a massive stadium right off the bat. An average attendance of somewhere between 4000 and 5000 for next year would be a good starting point.
At a date in the near future, DCFC would announce the terms of this opportunity and invite supporters to participate at tiered levels in a community-sourced “revenue share loan,” which would be repaid, with interest, according to the revenues earned by DCFC. This approach would 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 would not be an equity offering of ownership in the team, rather this would 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.
This point may have been lost in the shuffle, but in the near future, supporters will be able to directly contribute money to the club. This should not be construed as “supporter ownership,” which some clubs falsely advertise, but “supporter investment.” Ventures such as these are relatively new in American sports, and it will be interesting to see the results of City’s plan of action.
How does the stadium fit in to Detroit City FC’s future?
Keyworth would be 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 would be a perfect initial home that could 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.

Two big takeaways here:

(1) Ownership is looking to move the club up to a professional level.

(2) Keyworth is likely a stepping stone on the way to a new permanent home.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the press release, the field size of Keyworth would allow the club to host Open Cup matches, which was an impossibility at Cass. Additionally, stadium availability would presumably allow April preseason matches, which were held in Berkley the past two years, to be held at home.

Last year I speculated that renting rather than purchasing Keyworth could be a short-term solution to allow the club to continue growing while maintaining flexibility – sort of like living with a roomate while saving money for your own place. It appears that I was correct. City’s owners don’t seem to be content to settle on Keyworth as a long-term venue; their ultimate plan is to construct a soccer stadium in the heart of Detroit. Whether or not that becomes a reality may hinge on how successful the upcoming move goes, as well as the supporter investment venture.

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2 thoughts on “Keyworth Proposal: The Details”

  1. One of the things that could be a huge boon financially for the club would be the ability to schedule some heavy hitting friendlies. The schedule at Cass, and the clubs inability to control it, were a major limiting factor in this. So offer Chattanooga, Pittsburgh, Louisville, or other D2 teams like the Chicago Fire (see what I did there), 25% of the gate and get 5k paying fans for a cool friendly.

    1. That’s a great point. I believe they were trying to line up a “big name” for a friendly this year, but it fell through and they had to replace them with the Crew College Program.

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