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Detroit City FC wants to move to Hamtramck stadium

Terry Foster
The Detroit News
This is a rendering of Keyworth Stadium after the proposed renovations.

The Detroit City Football Club hopes to move to historic Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck before the 2016 season.

The popular National Premier Soccer League club made a pitch Wednesday night before the Hamtramck Public Schools Board of Education.

The city of Hamtramck would continue to own the stadium and Hamtramck High would continue to play its football games there.

Now the club needs approval, which might take at least two weeks.

DCFC has outgrown its current location – Cass Tech High, which holds about 3,500 fans. The new site could hold 6,000 fans after some renovations and could be expanded if the DCFC fan base continues to grow.

The club has not ruled out housing professional soccer at Keyworth or in downtown Detroit if it moves back to the city.

If the school board approves the proposal then "Le Rouge" said it would be ready to play in April.

"Looking to the next chapter of Detroit City FC," the club said in a statement released Thursday morning. "We realize we have reached a point where we need a new facility to continue the growth of the organization. We are proposing 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 game day atmosphere at any soccer venue in America."

Detroit City FC has been a big hit with fans at Cass Tech High.

DCFC co-owner Alex Wright said the team cannot remain stagnant.

"We have so much momentum going right now. We want to keep things thing moving in the short term," Wright said. "We need a bigger field and more amenities to our fans. We need more control of the space and the long-term goal is to have a stadium downtown. We see Hamtramck as a step."

Detroit City FC’s outlined the following improvements for Keyworth Stadium, which was built in 1936 as the first Works Progress Administration Project completed in Michigan:

* Structural improvements to the west grandstand and repair wooden bleachers to allow for complete access throughout.

* Update and refurbish 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.

* Groom the field turf, with the intention of eventually installing a grass field.

Detroit City FC said the renovations, estimated at $1 million, will be funded “through a combination of club funds, traditional small-business loans, as well as 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.”

The club has met for several months with Hamtramck Schools superintendent Thomas Niczay, who seemed enthused about a possible move. However, he said he could not comment about the proposal at this time.

"We have lawyers involved," he said. "So I cannot really comment on it. But we want it (to happen) as soon as possible."

The renovations could also help the Hamtramck High football team, which plays its home games there.

DCFC has built a rabid fan base over the past four years at Cass Tech as fans attempted to create an atmosphere similar to European and MLS soccer matches.

The team has had loose talks with a group under Pistons owner Tom Gores, who might be interested in investing in Detroit soccer.

"Our fans did not want to see us sitting on our hands and just selling out Cass Tech," Wright said.