In 2012, Detroit City FC (a.k.a. DCFC, City, Le Rouge) started as an experiment in amateur soccer. Since then, it’s continually grown in fan support, game day experience, and connection to the community. 2020 is a year of firsts: the men’s side will play its inaugural year as a professional club and a women’s side will make its debut.
The 2020 men’s season kicks off with an away match against Los Angeles on February 28. If you’re not a fan yet or haven’t been to a game, what are you waiting for? Going to a match is one of the best bang-for-your-buck entertainment experiences in the area.
So here’s everything you need to know about attending and enjoying a DCFC match.
A brief history of DCFC and Keyworth Stadium
DCFC is Detroit and Hamtramck’s soccer team. It has one of the most rabid sports fanbase, professional or otherwise, in the area. Maybe even the country.
But its beginnings were humble. The team played its first few seasons at Cass Technical High School, garnering a little over 1,000 fans for most games in its inaugural year.
In 2016 it moved to Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck after raising over $740,000 in community investment. It’s grown in attendance every year and averaged around 6,000 fans per game in 2018. Box seats were added to the stadium last year, and it now has a capacity of nearly 8,000.
Keyworth has a fascinating history of its own. One of the first federal Work Projects Administration developments in Michigan, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually attended the ribbon cutting in 1936 (it’s also why the street is named Roosevelt). John F. Kennedy had a campaign event there during his successful 1960 Presidential bid.
The stadium is also part of a larger preservation effort at Veterans Memorial Park, an athletic campus that includes the neighboring Hamtramck Stadium, one of the last remaining Negro League ballparks in America. The Ralph C. Wilson foundation has provided grants to support the long-term restoration project.
This year, DCFC will play its first in a professional league, which will mean several positive changes for the club. The vast majority of its matches will take place on Saturday afternoons and evenings, providing much-needed consistency for fans and players. There will also be more games per season, though ticket prices will remain the same. And now that players are paid, the team can attract better talent and the caliber of the play will improve.
Keyworth Stadium is located at 3201 Roosevelt Street, right on the edge of a residential neighborhood in Hamtramck.
The simplest way to get there is to drive. Most people will take I-75 to Holbrook and drive east past Joseph Campau.
Your biggest concern is probably going to be parking. With construction at Veterans Park taking place this year, fans can no longer park in the stadium’s lot. There’s lots of nearby residential parking in Hamtramck, though it can be difficult to find a spot near kickoff. Also be careful: Goodson and Roosevelt streets, and Gallagher south of Jacob Street are reserved for residents, and your car will be ticketed and towed if it’s parked there.
We recommend parking for free at The Fowling Warehouse on Christopher Street (though don’t park on Christopher Street), so you can tailgate and take part in the March to the Match. Sixty minutes before kickoff, thousands of fans head to the stadium en masse, getting revved up with drums and chants. Marchers go up Conant and across Jacob through residential blocks, many of which have DCFC banners waving from their porches. It’s a cool experience reminiscent of the pregame to a European match.
There are other options for getting to Keyworth. The 52 Chene DDOT bus goes between downtown and Hamtramck with a stop at Joseph Campau and Holbrook.
There are shuttles that leave McShane’s in Corktown 30 and 60 minutes prior to kickoff. Biking is also a great option.
What to bring
Most of the rules for what is and isn’t allowed in the stadium are pretty intuitive. No weapons, outside food, or drinks. Even though the Northern Guard (more on them below) do light smoke bombs, flares or fireworks are prohibited.
Purses or backpacks are allowed, as well as empty containers, flags, small umbrellas, and strollers. All cameras must be non-professional in quality, so leave your birdwatching lens at home.
Keyworth is an outdoor stadium, so check the weather and come prepared with the right gear.
And of course, bring your DCFC scarf. (Which you can also buy online, at the game, or at the apparel store in the Detroit City Fieldhouse)
Buying tickets and where to sit
One of the great perks about DCFC going pro is that there’s more matches of higher quality soccer, but at the same price as previous years. What already was a great deal on entertainment, certainly unmatched by any other professional sports team, got even better.
There are a few seating options depending on how much money you want to spend and how intense an experience you want. The basic $15 ticket will get you seats into the general admittance area. It’s a great, stress-free way to watch the game.
Gold Card holders get access to a special VIP area at midfield and other discounts. Unfortunately, the $250 card is already sold out. (Note: single-game tickets for the Gold section can be purchased for $20.)
But you can still buy a City Card season ticket pass for $125 that gets you admittance to every game, both men’s and women’s. Gold and City ticket holders also get to attend a pre-game chalk talk with a member of the coaching staff.
There are also 12 corporate suites built out of repurposed shipping containers situated just 10 feet from the field. Each suite, which can accommodate up to 16 people, includes a television and is serviced by DCFC hospitality staff. You can also get catering.
For those brave and enthusiastic enough, you’re unlikely to find a more visceral game day experience than sitting on the eastern bleachers with the Northern Guard. These rabid fans loudly march to the stadium, stand and chant all game long, and light colorful smoke bombs after DCFC goals.
DCFC has rules prohibiting certain kinds of speech and behavior at games, and will not tolerate language against women, minorities, and sexual identities. “We try to be most inclusive sporting space around,” says DCFC co-owner Alex Wright. Many fans fly LGBTQ-friendly rainbow flags.
What to eat and drink
Concessions at Keyworth are at food trucks or kiosks built out of shipping containers.
In the past, there’s been a rotating selection of Hamtramck food staples like Royal Kabob and Srodek’s, and other local vendors like Balkan House and Slow’s 2 Go. You can also buy alcohol from Blake’s Hard Cider, Brew Detroit, Stroh’s, and Detroit City Distillery, as well as several kinds of non-alcoholic beverages.
What to know about Le Rouge 2020
For the first seven years of its existence, DCFC was an amateur club, playing matches against other regional teams like Ann Arbor FC and Grand Rapids FC.
This year, they’ll play against a national slate of teams from around the country in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) league. There’s eight teams total, with four in California, but the league is growing. For the first half of the season through June they’ll play a round robin against those teams. For the second half, which begins in August, NISA will try to add teams (and have already announced three on the east cost). The season will run through October.
In between, the women’s club will play their season against other local clubs in a semi-professional league.
Typically the team plays an international friendly against clubs from Europe or Mexico, but none has been announced yet.
DCFC will be lead by second-year manager Trevor James, who hails from the U.K., and has over three decades of experience coaching at high levels in both the U.S. and England. He had an excellent first year, coaching the team to a 19-5-2 record.
May 26, 2012: DCFC records its first-ever home win, 3-0 over the Erie Admirals.
July 13, 2013: DCFC completes an 11-1-0 regular season record in Ben Pirmann’s first year as coach. In the NPSL Great Lakes Semifinals, DCFC beats AFC Cleveland 3-1. Unfortunately, they’d lose in the midwest finals.
May 20, 2016: DCFC plays its first-ever match at Keyworth Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,410 against Ann Arbor FC. The game ends in a 1-1 draw.
May 27, 2017: DCFC hosts Glentoran FC from Ireland. The match commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Cougars, who were part of the United Soccer Association, a league that lasted one year and imported European and South American clubs. The Cougars were made up of Glentoran players.
DCFC wins the match 1-0.
July 29, 2017: DCFC scores in stoppage time against rival Ann Arbor FC in the NPSL Midwest Region Final to win 3-2.
July 31, 2018: In the last game of the season, DCFC plays a friendly in front of the largest crowd ever at Keyworth stadium against Frosinone Calcio, a professional Italian club. The stadium was buzzing for this match, but DCFC got throttled by the Serie A club 10-0.
October 19, 2019: Though they lost their match against the Milwaukee Torrent, there was no dampening the celebration at Keyworth Stadium as DCFC won the NPSL league title.