Detroit City FC, the Hamtramck-based soccer team with a rabid following, had big plans this year to transition to a professional league after seven years as an amateur club.
They were set to play a round robin playoff against teams that would be part of its professional league’s eastern division. But that tournament, dubbed The Founders Cup, was cancelled and a new tournament launched with different teams. Crain’s Detroit Business also reported that there was some additional uncertainty because the club was still looking for a wealthy investor to buy into the team—a requirement to become a professional club.
Now, however, it’s really official: DCFC will turn pro next year. It’s one of three clubs joining the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), along with Chattanooga FC and Oakland Roots SC.
“These clubs truly represent their communities and are proof the open system for soccer is the best way forward,” NISA commissioner John Prutch said in a release. “Each has built their support the correct way and that support will sustain them and NISA for years to come.”
NISA, launched in 2019, has teams from all over the country. DCFC starts league matches in 2020 and is the only Midwest team.
As part of joining the league, DCFC players will now receive salaries. There will also be more matches each year, and they’ll be played on a regular schedule.
In a post on DCFC’s website, co-owner Sean Mann wrote that this “next chapter” won’t result in a diluted fan experience.
With this move, you won’t see increases in ticket prices, but you will see players that are able to commit full-time to the club and sport, and compensated appropriately for their talents. You won’t see any massive investment in the club from some anonymous overseas investment group, but you will see continual updates and improvements at Keyworth and the Fieldhouse as we strive to build on the best matchday experience in America. We probably won’t sign any former stars that were once on the cover of FIFA, but you are going to see a roster of players representing the city we love with pride, on a national platform week in and week out.
Though it didn’t secure an outside investor, the club changed the ownership stake of its members to conform to league requirements. The club also said it’s still open to outside investment.
DCFC’s rise has been impressive. In 2016, the club 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 this year, and it now has a capacity of nearly 8,000.