Detroit City FC leaders share early plans for new Corktown stadium with fan owners

Detroit City Football Club recently bought land where an abandoned hospital stands in Corktown, with hopes of building a new home pitch.

A DCFC banner hanging on the Southwest Detroit Hospital property in Corktown where the club plans to build a stadium.

A DCFC banner hanging on the Southwest Detroit Hospital property in Corktown where the club plans to build a stadium.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) launched a crowd funding campaign for fans to invest in the team. That group now owns about 10% of the club.

A meeting this week at a bar in Corktown was the first opportunity for those supporters to ask questions and mull over plans for a new home pitch. That’s after DCFC recently purchased a plot of land in Corktown where they hope to build a stadium with capacity for 14,000 fans.

Team leadership also revealed a number of items that were not previously announced, like how the team is working with a design group in England to draw up blueprints for the venue.

Team CEO, Sean Mann, says fan feedback will be an important, if not unavoidable, part of the design process.

“We see these folks all the time, they corner us everywhere,” Mann said. “Even before we get to proper listening sessions, they’ve been telling us what they want in a stadium for quite a while.

Listen: Detroit City owner community gets in on stadium plans

Keyworth outdated

The club has played at the 8,000 capacity Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck since 2016.

At the time, DCFC was a semi-professional club. But the team has grown a lot since then and now plays professionally in the United Soccer League.

John Sarge, one of the team’s fan owners, says while he enjoys the history of Keyworth, the field isn’t suited for pro soccer.


“I mean it’s barely wide enough,” Sarge said. “I’m glad I’m not playing on the pitch because if you don’t watch, you’re going into the cushions that we put on the walls.”

He also hopes a new home brings improved accessibility.

DCFC owner Megan Heberlein is looking forward to updated amenities. She says the bathroom arrangement at the Hamtramck stadium is less-than-ideal.

“‘Rustic’ is a good word,” she said. “To have updated bathrooms would be lovely.”

DCFC front office staff Todd Kropp (left), Alex Wright (center), and Sean Mann (right) talk to owners at a team meeting.

Gameday experience

There are certain things about DCFC’s current home that fans want to see at the new Corktown venue, as DCFC owner Jason Schubb explains.

“One thing we really want to have is the supporter section right on top of the field like we have [at Keyworth],” says Schubb.

In Hamtramck, the Northern Guard supporters — as the club’s hardcore fans are known — sit on the east sides of the field directly behind Detroit City’s player bench.  That’s different from a lot of soccer stadiums, where space behind the goal is typically earmarked as a supporter section.

“My big hope is that this new stadium allows for DCFC to still be the most affordable sporting event in the city.”

— AJ Petix, Detroit City supporter

“I think it actually is a benefit to the team,” Schubb said. “It creates an atmosphere unlike anything else in American sports.”

That isn’t all fans say Keyworth has going for it. Detroit City supporter AJ Petix says low prices for tickets and at concession stands are a big selling point.

“My big hope is that this new stadium allows for DCFC to still be the most affordable sporting event in the city,” Petix said.

Supporters think positively of the food trucks that show up on game day. The train track running alongside the stadium also creates a unique atmosphere, with fans waving at passing engineers who blow their horn as they pass.

Playing surface

Beyond maintaining a unique atmosphere, what the field is made of is also a priority raised by many of DCFC’s community owners. Fans, like Daniel Ahearn, say they want to see the players running around on grass, not turf.

“God created this game to be played on real grass,” Ahearn said.

Schubb is also on the grass bandwagon.

“In American soccer, most of the teams that are out there are playing on grass,” he said. “I think the teams prefer to play on it — the players definitely prefer to play on it.”

The future

Chief Creative Officer Alex Wright says it’s important that DCFC games maintain a special feel as the club becomes more prominent in the Detroit sports scene.

“What we’re always up against is there’s four historic and established professional teams in this town, and what we have to do is find a way to stand out,” said Wright.

Wright says overall inclusivity, as well as having men’s, women’s and youth teams, are things that can set Detroit City apart from the downtown sports landscape.

“Those are the kind of things we have to offer, that are bigger than trains or food trucks,” he said. “But it’s all part of the package that the more you follow this team, the more you realize what makes it so special.”

There’s still a lot to do before construction can kick-off at the Corktown site. For example, the long-vacant Northwest Detroit Hospital on the property will need to be knocked down.

DCFC leaders say they’re exploring a community benefits package to qualify for tax breaks from the city. If all goes to plan, the club hopes to be playing on its new field in 2027.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.