Dayton Dutch Lions FC have played in a number of home venues since joining USL in 2010, but none of them ever truly seemed like a home for the team and its fans. That may have all changed now that the club has partnered with Dr. Suresh Gupta and Dayton Outpatient Center to install a new playing surface in the stadium on the campus of West Carrollton High School. The USL PRO team will begin playing at West Carrollton as soon as the pitch is fit for competition. The announcement came this morning during a press conference held by representatives from the Dutch Lions, Gupta, and officials from West Carrollton City Schools.
Renovations to the field in West Carrollton began on March 13, and the Dutch Lions have targeted the May 10 home date against LA Galaxy II as the first USL PRO match to be held at The DOC. It cannot be coincidental that international soccer legend, Ruud Gullit, is scheduled to appear at that match for a ceremonial first kick.
Until the field is ready, the Dutch Lions will return to Beavercreek High School for USL PRO matches in the Miami Valley. A quick glance at the schedule reveals that three matches will be contested in Beavercreek:
- Friday, April 11 – 7:00 PM – versus Rochester Rhinos
- Saturday, April 26 – 7:00 PM – versus Richmond Kickers
- Sunday, May 4 – 7:00 PM – versus Charleston Battery
Location, Location, Location
The stadium will be renamed as The DOC in recognition of the significant investment made by Dayton Outpatient Center. According to Dr. Gupta, the total costs for the renovations to the field exceed half a million dollars. Gupta was inspired by the opportunity to watch the growth of athletes in the community, but the fact that the stadium is visible to thousands of passing cars on a from nearby I-75 on a daily basis was not lost on him.
The proximity to the major interstate highway was also a consideration for the Dutch Lions. Countless motorists will be driving past a stadium decked with the Dutch Lions brand and filled with its players and supporters. Equally as important, the team is now more accessible to a fan base as far north as Piqua, where the Dutch Lions hosted Wigan last summer, and as far south as Cincinnati, where the Dutch Lions just launched a USL PDL team.
Making a Pitch
The Motz Group, a Cincinnati-based company that specializes in building playing fields, is replacing the current grass field with a new synthetic turf. Proponents of playing the beautiful game on grass may cringe at the news that the new playing surface will be an artificial turf. The turf, though, will be easier and less expensive to maintain than a natural grass pitch. Moreover, Dr. Gupta asserts that the synthetic field reduces the risk of injury, a claim that is probably open for debate.
The planned dimensions of the field are slightly larger than an Beavercreek, which is welcome news to Dutch Lions players. The length of the pitch from end line to end line will be 116 yards. The width from touch line to touch line will be 66 yards. It appears that it will be necessary to place benches on the running track.
The pitch will have a more professional look than the home fields on which the Dutch Lions have grown accustomed to competing. Lines for American football will be absent until required by West Carrollton schools late in the year. Additionally, Dutch Lions logos will adorn the field.
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together
The addition of the synthetic turf surface in the stadium is actually the second in a three-phase plan that the Dutch Lions and West Carrollton began to execute three years ago. The first phase was completed with the addition of two grass fields in West Carrollton that are utilized by the DDL youth academy for training. The third phase will involve renovations to the stadium structure, which will include an upgrade to the seating. A timetable for commencing with the third phase has not been set.
The completion of the new turf will enable the realization of one of the major goals of the plan, which is to bring the entire Dayton Dutch Lions family to the same location. The youth academy, the USL PRO team, and the USL W-League team will all be training and playing in the same athletic complex. The club’s offices are also located in West Carrollton.
I’ll Love It More When a Bigger Plan Comes Together
It’s not a secret that the Dutch Lions and their supporters have been longing for the construction of a new soccer specific stadium in the Dayton area. At one point, that dream was tantalizingly close to becoming reality, but unanticipated obstacles stymied progress. Now, the three-phase plan in West Carrollton appears to have put thoughts of a new stadium on hold for the foreseeable future.
Appearances can be deceiving. Mike Mossel, President of the Dutch Lions, stated that the club’s ultimate focus is a soccer specific stadium in the Miami Valley. Superintendent of West Carrollton Carrollton City Schools, Dr. Rusty Clifford, acknowledged that the school district entered the partnership with its eyes wide open. Clifford then joked that the Dutch Lions wouldn’t be able to take the new turf with them if they left.
Realistically, it will still be some time before Dayton gets a soccer specific stadium. Mossel pointed out that even if investors and a location fall into place tomorrow, as many as three years might elapse before the Dutch Lions could set up residence in a new stadium.
In the mean time, the partnership with West Carrollton nothing short of fantastic. It clearly demonstrates that the Dutch Lions are committed long-term to playing professional soccer in the Dayton area. The location is highly visible and easily accessible, and soccer fans will finally be able to stop chasing the club all over the Miami Valley.
Speaking of soccer fans, the Dutch Lions and staff of West Carrollton schools are being very cooperative with the Oranje Legion. The supporters group has already staked out its space in the stadium, and ground rules for behavior have been established. The path has been paved for the Oranje Legion to rock The DOC.
Chad Hollingsworth is an ardent supporter of the Dayton Dutch Lions and USL PRO. He makes every effort to provide objective coverage, but cannot claim his pieces are devoid of bias. You can find and follow him on Twitter at @ChadHoll.