The Next Step
It was time for the next phase of Detroit City FC. Having outgrown Cass Tech High School Stadium, the team needed a larger venue. In September, 2015, before the Detroit Public Schools Showcase doubleheader, the team announced that it put in a bid to renovate Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. After gaining approval from the Hamtramck School Board, team ownership called out to the supporters.
October 29, 2015, at the Fowling Warehouse, Detroit City FC pitched their investment proposal. The financial need to rehabilitate the eighty-year-old Keyworth Stadium was $750,000. Supporters were asked to make an individual investment through a crowdfunding source – as low as $250, as high as $10,000 – under the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption Act. The investor would then be repaid with interest over time from the team’s revenues. The team set $400,000 as the goal that, once met, would free the funds early and allow the renovation work to begin.
On February 15, 2016, the closing date to invest, Detroit City FC raised $725,500 from 492 investors.
There were a few other off-season developments. First, it was announced that FC United of Manchester would play Le Rouge at Keyworth on May 28, 2016. FC United of Manchester is a supporter-owned football club founded in 2005, which opened its supporter-funded stadium in 2015.
Then, the NPSL accepted AFC Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids FC, and Kalamazoo FC into the league, creating a predominantly Michigan division. The Cincinnati Saints moved north to Dayton, and our seven-team, twelve-match division looked like this:
- AFC Ann Arbor
- Dayton Dynamo
- Detroit City FC
- Grand Rapids FC
- Kalamazoo FC
- Lansing United
- Michigan Stars
This divisional realignment meant that AFC Cleveland and FC Buffalo would no longer play us during the season. Talks took place. AFC Cleveland declined and FC Buffalo agreed to a home-and-home friendly to continue the supporter-based Rust Belt Derby.
Finally, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Once again, Le Rouge were to meet the Michigan Bucks. On their turf, this time outside at Oakland University instead of their big tin can.
The 2016 Season ended with a league record of four wins, four losses, and four draws, finishing fifth in the Great Lakes West Conference. By those numbers, an average season. However it was anything but average. There were spectacular highs and gut-wrenching lows. Still, Detroit City FC…
- Defeated the Michigan Bucks.
- Took Louisville City FC of the USL, to penalties in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
- Featured on the front page, above the fold, of The Detroit Free Press the morning of Keyworth Stadium’s opening match.
- Swelled Keyworth Stadium opening night with 7,410 fans.
- Hosted FC United of Manchester and played to an exciting 3-3 draw before 6,245 fans.
- Won fourth consecutive Rust Belt Derby.
- Endured a spell of six matches in twelve days, which included both US Open Cup matches.
And with chatter of a Major League Soccer team coming from Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert, we shared our opinion of their idea.
Because of the divisional realignment, I was fortunate to hit every NPSL regular season game, and all the other friendlies with the exception of a pre-season friendly in Windsor, Ontario, and the second half of the Rust Belt Derby in Buffalo. Below are the highs and lows of each match, page by page.
May 7, 2016: vs Muskegon Risers (Friendly)
May 11, 2016: at Michigan Bucks(PDL) (Lamar Hunt US Open Cup)
May 13, 2016: at Michigan Stars (NPSL Regular Season)
May 15, 2016: at Dayton Dynamo (NPSL Regular Season)
May 18, 2016: at Louisville City FC (USL) (Lamar Hunt US Open Cup)
May 20, 2016: AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Regular Season)
May 22, 2016: at Kalamazoo FC (NPSL Regular Season)
May 28, 2016: vs FC United of Manchester (International Friendly)
June 3, 2016: vs FC Buffalo (Friendly)
June 10, 2016: at Grand Rapids FC (NPSL Regular Season)
June 12, 2016: vs Lansing United (NPSL Regular Season)
June 19, 2016: vs Kalamazoo FC (NPSL Regular Season)
June 25, 2016: vs Dayton Dynamo (NPSL Regular Season)
July 1, 2016: vs Grand Rapids FC (NPSL Regular Season)
July 3, 2016: at AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL Regular Season)
July 6, 2016: vs Columbus Crew College Program (Friendly)
July 10, 2016: at Lansing United (NPSL Regular Season)
July 15, 2016: vs Michigan Stars (NPSL Regular Season)
July 27, 2016: vs Windsor Stars (Friendly)