By Charles Sercombe
Renovating Keyworth Stadium to host a minor league soccer team passed its first hurdle.
The stadium, built in the 1930s, is savable, said Sean Mann of the Detroit City Football Club. The club paid for an engineering analysis of the stadium and it was determined the structure needs just a few improvements.
The Football Club is proposing to renovate the stadium, owned by the public school district, in exchange for allowing its league to play there on Saturdays during their regular season.
The league now leases the stadium owned by Cass Tech High School in Detroit but has outgrown that facility.
Mann said it’s estimated that it would take $3 million to repair the stadium and rip out the artificial turf and replace it with natural grass.
The next hurdle, Mann said at Wednesday’s Hamtramck School Board meeting, is getting investors lined up.
Work that needs to be done includes replacing some concrete in the grandstands on the east side of the stadium and installing restrooms and replacing the seating.
“We’re looking to bring it back to its former glory,” Mann said.
As it looks now, Mann said he hopes to move his league into the stadium by 2016.
If Mann’s club moves up in the minor leagues, the season would be April through December.
Plans also call for creating a practice field to cut down on wear and tear on the regular field.
School teams would be able to continue playing at Keyworth.
Mann said he would report back to the school board in another two months with an update.
In other sports related news, Gary Gillette of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium also addressed the school board.
The Friends organization is also in the process of seeking funding to renovate the baseball stadium located in Veterans Memorial Park. That site is one of only a handful of remaining stadiums that hosted baseball’s historic Negro League.
The Detroit Stars once played at this stadium and many of the legendary Negro League players, such as Detroit’s own Turkey Stearnes and Satchel Paige played there in the 1930s.
Although the stadium is owned by the city of Hamtramck, plans for renovating the stadium dovetails with renovating Keyworth Stadium.
Gillette said he is in talks with a major corporation, which he could not disclose, to fund renovating the stadium and its grounds. He said it is possible that the school district’s Recreation Department could be in charge of programming at the stadium, or possibly team up with the Detroit Police Department’s Police Athletic League.
There is no request for the school district to invest in this development, but both stadiums in discussion are next to each other.
School Superintendent Tom Niczay said the two developments are on the “cusp of something great.”
“We need to do this for Hamtramck,” Niczay added.