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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Detroit FC debuted at Keyworth Stadium in 2016 after playing its home matches at Cass Technical High School the previous four seasons. The move to a new venue was necessary since the team had quickly outgrown its home pitch and needed a larger facility to hold its burgeoning crowds.
The club initiated a crowd-based investment program to renovate and rehabilitate Keyworth Stadium in nearby Hamtramck. The MILE (Michigan Invests Locally Exemption) Act allows companies in the state to accept loans from small investors ($250-$10,000) provided that they are Michigan residents. A total of $741,250 was raised in 109 days from 527 verified Michigan residents.
Keyworth Stadium originally opened on October 15, 1936, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke during his second campaign for presidency. The 6,000-seat stadium has been the home of various interscholastic sports throughout its history, but had fallen on hard times the last few decades.The money raised was used for structural improvements to the grandstands, renovations of locker rooms and restrooms, and modernization of lighting and the playing turf. Other improvements included concrete resurfacing, a new sound system, and plans for natural grass pitch in future seasons.
Built between the city's dense residential streets and a large set of train tracks, Keyworth Stadium is the type of structure that most likely will never be built again by any professional sports entity in this country. Houses and streets literally touch the exterior of the grandstands and fans exit and enter in front of residential front porches and lawns.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
All of the food served at Keyworth Stadium are from local area food trucks and other local proprietors, showcasing the many influences of different cultures in the city. A majority of these food trucks are located behind the end line in between the two main entrances creating a bustling street fair atmosphere.
Fans are able to enjoy slices of pizza for $4 or a whole pie for $22. There are also delicious chicken and lamb shawarmas, falafel, and gyros for $6 and $8. There is the Heroes and Villains truck, offering gourmet sandwiches named after popular comic book characters.
However, Srodek's has the largest line at the game with folks waiting to taste one of their gourmet kielbasa sandwiches and pierogi. The sandwiches are served on locally made buns, topped with homemade sauerkraut, and are available in cheddar, smoked, pepper jack, and ghost pepper for $6. The pierogi come in orders of 5 and are also $6.
You can wash down all of these wonderful delicacies with Detroit's own Faygo pop for $3, Axle City Pale Ale, Blake's Hard Cider and mixed drinks for $6, and Stroh's for $4. In fact, Stroh's and Axle City are the only two beers you can purchase at the game.
If you attend a soccer game at Keyworth Stadium and do not become a fan, don't blame Detroit City FC. The excitement begins 60 minutes before the game with the March to the Match. Supporters meet at Fowling Warehouse, an official pregame destination, and march through the streets of Hamtramck while drumming, chanting, and singing.
Once inside the facility, the North Guard and other supporter groups take up residency along the eastside seating section and spend the match singing an established series of songs, throwing smoke bombs after goals, and creating a truly one of a kind atmosphere for any level of soccer in the United States. The group has an unbridled passion for DCFC and ranks with the best of them in any other market.
If you want to enjoy the game in a more subdued area, then purchase a ticket on the opposite side of the stadium with a slightly relaxed group of fans. The seating area was created with refurbished wooden seats that were removed from the supporter section. The stadium is absent of a track making sightlines up close and personal to the action.
The main entrance behind the goal line is also an area of heavy traffic and activity. The majority of food is served and a portable cart sells a variety of merchandise from scarves, t-shirts in multiple colors and styles, jerseys, and jackets. The lines are long, but the orders are expedited quickly.
Hamtramck, Michigan sits right over the border of Detroit and is the most densely populated city in the state, with over 22,000 residents packed into 2.09 square miles. Known as a vibrant community for Polish American life and culture, the city continues attracting immigrants and now features a large Bengali, Yemeni, and Pakistani population.
The pregame destination before each match is The Fowling Warehouse (3901 Christopher Street). Supporters spend their time enjoying a few drinks, conversation along the large bar and playing the football bowling pin game called fowling.
Hamtramck has been described as one of the last bastions of unpolluted divebars in Detroit. There are several dive bars that line the streets and look the way they did 50 years ago, including the Whiskey in a Jar, Polish Sea League, Paycheck's Lounge, Kelly's Bar, and Moose Lodge.
McShane's Pub is the official post game destination and offers shuttle services from its location at 1460 Michigan Ave.
DCFC is a fan-driven team, attracting mammoth crowds in a 4th division league. They have taken in the excitement and pageantry at home matches. It is rare not to see someone sporting one of a couple dozen jerseys or t-shirts cheering on the home team, or yelling at the ref for a bad call. There are many who are enjoying the great food and atmosphere, but there are also many who are there strictly for the game on the field.
Keyworth Stadium is surprisingly quite easy to maneuver around during the game. All of the food and drinks are served in one area that features ample space and a few long lines. Seats are spacious enough to move up and down. Bathrooms are located behind the main seating section and can be quite dense during halftime. Arriving at the game to the multiple lots is also quite easy, but might be a little challenging to first time visitors to the stadium.
Tickets and parking are $10 each, a great price for the atmosphere. Parking lots are easily accessible, adjacent to the stadium. It is possible to find parking on the streets before the game or take one of the shuttle busses from McShane's Pub. The price of food from the food trucks is extremely reasonable and delicious. Beer prices are also affordable at $4 and $6.
One extra point for the amazing, diverse, and delicious food served at the game that includes pizza, kielbasa, pierogi, shawarma, and gyros. The beers are cold and includes Axle City Pale Ale and Stroh's.
Another additional point for the collection of merchandise that includes a wide variety of t-shirts, jerseys, scarves, and caps. There are long lines to snatch up something in the team colors of maroon and gold.
A third extra point for the atmosphere that begins with the March to the Match and continues with the supporter group, North Guard, chanting and singing from their own section.
One finally extra point for having ice cold Stroh's for only $4 a can.
DCFC are renovating and invigorating life back into Keyworth Stadium. It was dilapidated and in squalid condition before the arrival of the soccer club.
Attending a DCFC game is definitely quite the spectacle. It is a 90 minute plus party that includes singing, cheering, eating, drinking, and celebrating. The location of the stadium and the ensuing revelry establishes Keyworth Stadium as one of the must see soccer venues in the United States.
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3901 Christopher St
Detroit, MI 48211
2741 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
2601 Edwin St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
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