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Detroit City FC Supporters Creative Commons photo by Dave Hogg

An unassuming brick building with papered-over windows in Hamtramck will become the new mixed-use home of the Detroit City FC soccer team, which is preparing to move into nearby Keyworth Stadium for the 2016 season.

The new headquarters, at 2750 Yemans St., will serve as combination office space for the team’s business operations, a community gathering space and retail store selling branded DCFC merchandise, such as replica jerseys, T-shirts and scarves. It opens to the public Friday at 11 a.m., with a grand opening Wednesday, April 27 from 5-7 p.m.

The new location replaces City’s offices on Second Avenue near Cass Tech High School, where the team had been playing since its inaugural season in 2012.

“The idea was to really kind of become the fabric of the community of Hamtramck,” City FC General Manager Donovan Powell said. “We wanted to have a communal space where residents of the city, of the community could come and actually interact with us instead of having a strict office space.”

The storefront is directly across the street from the Whiskey in the Jar tavern and down the block from Polish Village Cafe in downtown Hamtramck. It was formerly the home of Better Life Bags, which moved to a larger space on Joseph Campau.

The exterior of the new Detroit City FC offices and storefront. New signage is expected to go up later this week.
The exterior of the new Detroit City FC offices and storefront. New signage is expected to go up later this week.

Getting Keyworth ready

Le Rouge, as the team is known, are planning to kick off its 2016 season May 20 against AFC Ann Arbor at Keyworth Stadium, an 80-year-old Works Progress Administration project that has hosted Presidents Frankly Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

City turned to a “revenue sharing agreement,” a non-equity, interest-bearing crowdfunding drive that helped the team raised just over $741,000 from 527 supporters. The drive came in just shy of its $750,000 goal.

“For the most part we plan to do everything that we set out to do,” Powell said. “That’s redoing the infrastructure, redoing the lighting, locker rooms, restrooms, really make it a playable place.”

The club has renovated most of the existing bleacher seats but has had to replace others. Keyworth will boost seating capacity to 6,000 from the 2,500 seats at Cass Tech, where the team’s average attendance was more than 3,500 last season.

KeyworthStadiumCity is also inviting supporters to volunteer this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Keyworth. Volunteers are needed to help paint bleachers and go door-to-door in Hamtramck to introduce the team to the neighborhood and distribute single-game discount vouchers redeemable at the storefront. Pizza will be provided.

City a future MLS franchise?

Local media turned their attention to Le Rouge after the commissioner of Major League Soccer last week mentioned Detroit among cities that could land a new franchise in the league’s next round of expansion. City’s ownership group has been open about its ambitions to jump up to higher leagues.

The Northern Guard Supporters, City’s boisterous supporters group, weren’t amused, saying in a Facebook post that the team needs time to build its way up organically.

“While we here in NGS dont hate pro soccer, we hate the pro soccer at any cost mentality that has been sweeping across the US, from Atlanta to Cincy to Minnesota to Sacramento. We of course want our team to grow as big as possible and go to the highest level we can achieve,” NGS wrote.

Powell says the team is focused primarily on preparing for its upcoming season.

“We want to bring the highest level of soccer that we can here to Detroit,” he said. “From the team’s perspective, we’re focused on what we’re doing. Right now we’re fully invested in our move over to Keyworth, so the MLS at this point is not in our sight. We’re fully invested in our 2016 season. What happens down the line is a mystery to us as it is to many of you out there.”