The Detroit area does not yet have a professional soccer team but it is anything but a soccer wasteland.
The Pontiac Silverdome (reportedly set for demolition) was a host site for the 1994 World Cup and Ford Field has played host to the US Women’s National Team in the past, most recently this past September as part of the post-World Cup Victory Tour.
Add in the various youth and amateur teams and the general growing popularity of the sport in this country and Detroit would seem ripe for a local team with a higher profile.
A new piece by World Soccer Talk’s Kartik Krishnaiyer agrees.
Krishnaiyer set out to evaluate the top 20 cities for professional soccer expansion and after evaluating cities on the criteria of market size, existing supporter base and existing soccer infrastructure, Detroit topped the list. Krishnaiyer explains:
"Detroit City FC is the hippest club in the country. Many fans across the nation have adopted Detroit City FC as a second team due to the robust supporters culture the 4th tier club has developed. The area, which is being quickly revived, represents the largest TV market in the country without a professional team. Detroit City FC is the only non-professional club in a position where they don’t have to bid to pro leagues. The pro leagues will all be bidding to have them join them. They are the crown jewel club in a market that is the largest one left untapped on the map."
Promotion of Detroit City FC represents the clearest path to professional soccer in Detroit and the team’s ownership group is in the midst of planning to make it happen. The team has called Detroit Cass Tech High School home for the last few years but has outgrown that facility but is planning a move to Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck that would allow for crowds of up to 6,000 – about twice what can be accommodated at Cass Tech.
As important as the move to Keyworth would be, it is only a stepping stone in a greater path. Co-owner Alex Wright was quoted as follows in the Detroit Free Press:
"While we are working on this, conversations continue with investors to take us to a pro level and move up to a higher professional level,” Wright said. “This stadium would meet those immediate needs. We could play at Keyworth for a few years until we get something permanent. This keeps us going in that trajectory. Our goal is to be Detroit’s soccer team. Undeniably. Unchallenged. Detroit’s soccer team. To do that, we need to play a longer season at a professional level in a venue that we have more control over. This helps address that last component."
DCFC currently plays in a fourth-tier league of the US Soccer pyramid with the top three tiers – Major League Soccer at the top followed by the North American Soccer League the and United Soccer League – fielding professional teams.
There is work to be done before there is professional soccer in Detroit but don’t be surprised when the day comes.