Home Improvement – Part I: Dirty Old Ground

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After more than a year of speculation regarding City’s future beyond Cass Tech, we finally have our answers. The new home will be Keyworth Stadium, and its reconstruction will be financed through an ambitious community investment program. Later in the week I’ll take a look at the details of that plan, but first I thought it would be good to examine the actual work that needs to be done.

According to the club, the first phase of renovations includes the following:

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That may sound like a lot, but every single one of those repairs (plus several more that aren’t listed) is badly needed. From one visit to the stadium, it’s evident just how rough of a condition it’s currently in.

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Photo by DCFCFC
Photo by DCFCFC

It’s clear that the resurrection of Keyworth will be a multi-year project, and the bulk of the cosmetic and artistic touches will have to wait until 2017 or 2018 when the foundational and infrastructural work has been completed. For now, the focus will be on simple things, such as securing benches to the stands, and making sure there’s no exposed rusty rebar that someone could impale themselves on.

I’ll likely reference this again when I go into more detail about the club’s funding proposal, but here is the list of the desired Phase 1 projects:

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The biggest concern that I have with this initial phase is that there may not be enough time and/or money to address the most important part of a soccer stadium – the field.

On the plus side, the wider dimensions will allow City to host U.S. Open Cup matches for the first time. The downside is that Keyworth’s current artificial playing surface is in very poor condition and appears to be several years past its replacement date.

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Photo by DCFCFC
Photo by DCFCFC

At this point, it looks like we may have to endure at least one season of gridiron lines, bouncy passes, and skinned knees.

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For all its dinginess, Keyworth has incredible potential. At the high school match between Hamtramck and Cranbrook a few weeks ago, an impressive level of noise was generated by a mere 100ish people. The concrete stands have much better acoustic qualities than the metal bleachers at Cass, and once there is a full contingent of supporters occupying their brand new terraced section on the east side of the stadium, the atmosphere will be electric and deafening.

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I should also mention my favorite part of the stadium, the lettering on the south wall behind which trains regularly pass.

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In the age of Whataburger Field and the KFC Yum! Center, having your team play in a stadium with a simple, non-corporate name is a rare treat. In this instance, Keyworth refers to Dr. Maurice R. Keyworth, Hamtramck’s Superintendent of Schools in 1923.

The classic lettering would look good in gold on a wall painted rouge, which just so happens to be the primary color of Hamtramck H.S. Just sayin’…

Moving away from Cass means we will be losing the awesome view of the downtown skyline, but I think the aesthetics of Keyworth are a more than adequate replacement. The concrete terraces, the tall light towers, the train tracks, the rows of tightly packed houses to the north and west of the stadium – if you squint and visualize a little bit, you can see a sight that wouldn’t be out of place in an urban, working-class area of England or Germany.

As it stands, there are less than six months to go until City plays its customary first preseason friendly. With the amount of work to be done, it seems as though the only part of the stadium that DOESN’T need to be addressed is the flagpole. In Part II we’ll look more closely at how the club plans to pay for the plan to bring Keyworth back.

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