Detroit City FC made two off season announcements last week which included the creation of a new indoor soccer facility. In contrast to the current national landscape of American soccer, Detroit City FC continues to be a positive and productive force. DCFC’s 2018 season in the NPSL was confirmed, along with renovation plans for a Detroit City Fieldhouse. DCFC are developing an indoor soccer facility set to open this coming September.
In a recent conversation, DCFC co-owner and DCFL creator Sean Mann detailed to me his team’s latest announcements. He outlined Detroit’s need for an indoor soccer facility and the upcoming 2018 schedule. A schedule which Mann jests as being “perhaps the greatest NPSL season known to mankind.”
Detroit City FC To Play in NPSL and Unveil Indoor Facility
Waiting for the Right Moment to Emerge
Uncertainty in American soccer has put DCFC’s plans to jump to a professional league into a “holding pattern.” A byproduct of the NASL (North American Soccer League) vs USSF (United States Soccer Federation) lawsuit was the revealing of DCFC’s intent to join the NASL. With the results of the lawsuit still pending, DCFC’s league status for 2018 has been a curiosity. “We’ve always been committed to NPSL,” says Mann. “[The NPSL] has been a great league for us. It’s often overlooked but it plays an important role in the American soccer landscape. I think it’s been a home for entrepreneurs and innovators in the sport of soccer, from the business to the community side, as well.”
Mann goes on to admit DCFC’s intent moving forward.
“It’s no secret we’ve been in the mix over the years to move beyond and build on our NPSL success: playing on the professional level,” Mann emphasized. “We have talked to all the leagues at this point about [turning professional] and have most recently been in the NASL conversations. The situation has quite publicly played out over the last eight months or so and now everyone is still in a holding pattern as to what happens next there. For 2018, regardless of what else happens elsewhere we are playing in the NPSL. We are currently putting together the greatest NPSL schedule known to mankind. Once we release our schedule in a couple weeks, I really think we are going to turn some heads.”
Filling a Community’s Soccer Need
The Detroit City Fieldhouse will be a 75,000 square foot indoor soccer facility in the city of Detroit. The “quirky facility” will be a renovated ice rink complex just east of downtown. The field house will feature two playing fields and an eventual bar/restaurant clubhouse located in between the two.
DCFC’s Fieldhouse announcement is a major one and possibly a watershed moment. Detroit City FC appears to be set on deepening their roots into the city.
“We are moving forward and we are not resting on our laurels,” Mann explained. “With some of last year’s profits and our own private funding sources, we’ve taken over the Detroit Red Wings old practice facility.”
The Kansas born owner continued enthusiastically,
“It’ll be a hub for [our DCFL adult rec leagues] and we will be partnering with some youth clubs too, which we will be announcing in the coming months. For us it will be a home for the club year round. We envision our club to legitimately be there from when a kid first touches a soccer ball until when they are a parent and are bringing their own kids to a soccer match, all kind of housed in one location”.
Another aspect of what makes this new DCFC venture stand out is the ambition and longevity of the vision–not to mention the financial investment from the club owners, also. Investment within the city of Detroit is not a daily occurrence and especially not an investment in soccer facilities. Mann feels certain there is an unfilled need in the city.
“We run various adult leagues and have over 1,500 participants but there’s no facility actually in the city,” Mann states. “So all these folks playing in the summer leagues have to travel out to the suburbs to play in the winter. There is a tremendous population there and then there are the 1,000 kids playing in a little kickers program through the Detroit Police Athletic League, yet there is no facility for them in the city. There is a population looking for this. We are excited that we finally now have the resources to do this, and we can do this properly. [Renovate the complex] in a way so that the place becomes a true asset to the community.”
Michigan Soccer Landscape a “Unique and Special Situation”
While discussing the NPSL’s Great Lakes Conference announcement, Mann was quick to add how he thinks the Michigan soccer landscape is becoming something quite special.
“We’ve got some fun competition going on with some teams here in Michigan,” he noted. “There’s a unique and special situation going on with NPSL in Michigan. The state stands apart really when you think about it; we’ve got Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, us, and Kalamazoo. Not many places do you find [multiple] clubs consistently drawing over 1,000 fans. That is a unique experience we can offer our players. To play in front of those kinds of crowds on a regular basis. I truly think we are building up real community clubs here. And that is something American soccer could use more of.”
When asked about DCFC losing these Michigan rivalries with a potential move to the professional NASL, the lobbyist by trade added that “regardless of what happens to us, whenever it happens to us, we plan to maintain those relationships with those [Michigan ownership groups]. But at the same time, we are drawing over 5,500 people to each game, and in many ways, Detroit is a major sports city. I think we have expectations, and the fans have expectations to play at a higher level. We’ve certainly gotten to that point and we are just waiting for the right opportunity to emerge.”
Detroit City FC’s 2018 season will be their seventh in the NPSL and their third in Hamtramck’s Keyworth Stadium. DCFC stated the 2018 schedule and youth club partnerships will be officially announced in the coming months.
Photo credit: Detroit City FC