Less than one year ago, Detroit City FC launched a fundraising campaign to fix its new home field. Ten months later, the campaign was so successful that the club announced yesterday that it would begin distributing $107,000 in revenue sharing to its investors.
Le Rouge plays in the National Premier Soccer League, the fourth tier of U.S. soccer. What makes the club memorable, however, is its intense fan support. Five Detroit residents created the team in 2012 as a way to unite the city around a grassroots professional team. From the beginning, the club adopted a unifying motto: “Passion for our city. Passion for the game.” The club runs youth and community soccer teams for city residents and sets aside one regular season game specifically to fundraise for a selected city charity.
The team originally played its home games at Cass Technical High School but decided to embrace an ambitious project. Rather than do what many professional American sports teams do and threaten local government to build them a new stadium or else, they took matters into their own hands. Le Rouge undertook a fundraising campaign to renovate Keyworth Stadium, which was originally built as a Great Depression jobs project. The club decided to utilize the state’s MILE Act, which allows small companies to accept small loans from Michigan residents for projects.
According to the team’s press release, the round of payments will be made to the 492 investors who participated in the campaign. All told, the program raised $725,500, which was well within the projected goal of between $400,000 and $750,000. It was also the largest campaign of its kind in Michigan history. In addition, fans organized bleacher painting and field clean-up in addition to donating money.
The success of the fundraiser was another in a line of financial successes for the club, which included the largest NPSL regular season match attendance ever when Detroit City played its first match at Keyworth on May 20, 2016. Like one of its opponents this year, FC United of Manchester, Detroit City FC is showing how a fan-organized and supported club can find success in a place often overlooked by the mainstream media.
Update: This article failed to mention that this payout was the first of 10 planned payouts. Thank you to @TheDukeNGS.