Most important points of the long discussion to follow:
- Get your ticket ahead of time; all seats are general admission
- We generally show up at Harry’s at least 1.5 hours before a game
- Bring cash for Harry’s, but eat somewhere else first
- Make sure to bring or buy something to protect your face with if you want to stand in the smoke with us – at least a bandana, preferably a scarf.
- There will be profanity and lots of it. Be prepared.
- Never, ever throw anything on the field.
We meet at Harry’s Bar, 2482 Clifford St. in Detroit, usually at least an hour and a half before gametime. Clifford is a one-way street heading north, so if you’re coming from the north your best bet is to take Cass Ave. down over the freeway, left onto the service drive then left onto Clifford. M1 Rail and Red Wings arena construction have closed many streets, freeway ramps, etc. so be aware that your GPS may not automatically send you in the right direction. From the east side, we take I-94 to the Lodge’s Grand River exit, then left onto Temple past the Masonic, right on Cass. This avoids most construction issues.
If there’s a Tigers game at the same time, add about 45 minutes to your planned travel.
There’s parking both in Harry’s lot as well as on a gravel lot across the street that the bar owns. Street parking in the area is possible, but the neighborhood is not the greatest and lot parking is preferable once you get more than a block away from Harry’s. Do not park on Henry Street between Harry’s and Cass. If you’d prefer not to walk back to Harry’s after the game, there are parking lots around Cass Tech, including one right across the street with an entrance on Temple that is guarded and charges $10.
Food is expensive at Harry’s ($13+ burgers) and it can be very difficult to get a table and food service before a DCFC game thanks to the size of the crowd. Beer is easier to acquire, including a parking lot station serving the Le Rouge Beer that Motor City Brewing Works created for the team. It’s $5 and good.
Harry’s will be loud and crowded and friendly. There may be a smoke bomb or two lit in the parking lot. There will be profanity. Our friends in the Northern Guard Supporters will have merchandise for sale, including t-shirts and scarves if you’d like to dress up for the game. If you don’t want to purchase anything, clothes close to “rouge” (basically burgundy) or gold (yellow works) will help you fit in. (Think Central Michigan University colors and you’re pretty close.) Wear clothes that you don’t mind putting in the wash as soon as you get home.
Roughly 45 minutes before game time, the supporters gather in the parking lot at Harry’s, get a pep talk from the lead “capo” (chant leader) known as “Sergeant Scary” and march the 2.5 blocks to Cass Tech, with drums, flags, chanting and smoke bombs. There is profanity in the pep talk. The march is disorganized and moves slowly enough for kids. Once the march arrives at Cass Tech, the supporters gather in a circle outside the stadium and do one more profane chant outside the opponents’ locker room before lining up to enter. The main line at the gate will be people who are holding tickets, if you need to buy a ticket at the game (which we don’t recommend, since they can and do sell out), there’s a separate line for the box office. All tickets are general admission.
As school property, there’s no smoking and no alcohol sales or possession allowed. Bags may be searched on entry by Detroit Public Schools police. There is DCFC merchandise for sale, as well as food trucks (usually with long lines) and basic concessions including water and light snacks. Concessions take cash only. You can bring your own non-alcoholic beverages into the stadium.
You’ll need to decide where to sit, as there’s two sides to Cass Tech Stadium as well as standing room on some fences. The larger, “family friendly” side does not have smoke, fans sit during the game and while there’s some cheers and chants there’s much less organization or expectation that you’ll take part. It’s a fairly traditional sports fan experience and a lot of fun.
The supporters’ stands, where we hang out, can look like this:
In the supporters’ stands, you are expected to stand for the entire game (two 45-minute halves). There’s an expectation that you’ll at least try to participate in the chants and songs and other activities, but new people are welcomed and not made fun of for not knowing the words. There are chants and songs that have physical components, from waving scarves to “Tetris” in which lines of supporters dance back and forth in unison. The closest example in American sports is a raucous college basketball student section, but with more smoke. There will also be a great deal of strong profanity and obscenity, both from individuals and in some of the chants and songs. (It’s usually amusing.) There’s occasionally crowd surfing going on above you.
If you’d like to study up beforehand, chant and song info is here.
There will be smoke from smoke bombs in the supporters’ stands. Lots of smoke. You WILL want something to cover your face, at least a scarf. Many people bring shop respirators, some use at least dust/surgical masks. A simple bandana usually isn’t enough. Depending on the wind, you may be in the smoke for minutes at a time. Hard candy like Life Savers or Jolly Ranchers are great for “supporter throat” caused by cheering and singing and smoke. Lots of people carry pockets full.
Basic rules: Nobody says anything racist or homophobic. (We’re working on sexism.) Under no circumstances should you throw anything on the field. No open flames. Move out of the way if a flag is coming through. Do not bring your own smoke bombs or other fireworks. Don’t be a jerk to your fellow supporters. In four seasons, there’s never been an issue with violence in the stands.
Regardless: Have fun. People literally come from all over the country to experience DCFC’s gameday atmosphere. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever been a part of and we hope you love it too.