Detroit City FC: First USL Pro, then MLS?

Detroit City FCA hit at the National Premier Soccer League level, Detroit City FC owners are working on a move up to USL Pro and then potentially to MLS.

At the current level, Detroit City FC is a hit: attendance is strong (in fact, the team set a record with a crowd of 2,641 during a match last week), play on the field is good, and ownership has a plan for moving up North American pro soccer’s ladder with a planned move to USL Pro next April, with a 5,000-seat downtown stadium proposed. From there, we could see a push to move Detroit City FC to MLS during the league’s planned expansion over the next six years.

But not everyone wants to see Detroit City FC move up the ranks: many fans, especially those in the fan club, the Northern Guard, like the intimate nature of Detroit City FC, as well as the cheap tickets. Moving up will be mean higher ticket prices, of course, as well as a more expansive atmosphere. It’s an issue for many team owners across all of sports: at what point do you alienate the hardcore fans in favor of a wider fan base? It’s an interesting issue, and one that owner Dan Duggan will need to address:

The fans love the small-club atmosphere, not to mention $10 tickets and $40 season-ticket packages. They want nothing to do with deep pockets and what they believe to be corporate greed.

“It would be great to see some high-level players here but City is my team,” said Ypsilanti’s Ami Attee, who goes by “Banshee.” “I don’t really care. It would be great for other people who are not familiar with this. It would be great to have some famous (players) but these are our stars.”

In any case, this isn’t the worst problem to have, and Duggan faces some far more intimidating problems: like raising a minimum of $100 million to buy an MLS franchise.

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August Publications