The club in Michigan’s largest city will unveil its new sculpture park on April 24, and is also completing rooftop renovations to its iconic clubhouse building to create a restaurant, lounge and meeting rooms.
The Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) will celebrate its centennial on April 24 with strong membership and a new sculpture park, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
The club in Michigan’s largest city is also completing rooftop renovations to its iconic Albert Kahn-designed building to create a restaurant, lounge and meeting rooms, which are expected to open in July, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
All told, the nonprofit club has spent nearly $60 million in restoration and construction projects over the past 17 years, Executive Manager Ted Gillary told Crain’s Detroit Business.
The $2.3 million sculpture project, which will be placed on the island that bisects Madison Avenue in front of the club, represents the club’s original mission of supporting amateur athletics, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Fittingly because of the DAC’s proximity to Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers) and Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions), the park will include nine-foot statues of a baseball second baseman throwing a runner out at first, and a football running back, as well as two runners. A fourth sculpture, of a female swimmer, will be installed in the club’s circular drive entryway, as a nod to how the DAC’s facilities were used to train female Olympic hopefuls decades ago.
All of the sculptures were commissioned by the club’s foundation and sculpted by A. Thomas Schomberg, whose most famous work is the “Rocky” statue in Philadelphia, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
The solidity of DAC membership over the years has cemented its legacy in Detroit history, despite the city’s periods of economic difficulties, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
“The strength of this club is the social aspect,” Gillary told the business publication. “The trust between members here translates into the business out there; our members dine together, play sports together, get to know each other’s families.”
Bill Kozyra, a member since 1997 and local business executive, told Crain’s Detroit Business that the DAC provides “a tremendous platform to prosper, personally and professionally.”
A forerunner of the DAC opened in 1887, Crain’s Detroit Business reported, but by the early 20th century that club had mostly fizzled out. A group of the city’s leading dignitaries and business executives then got together to commission Kahn to design what was then a $2 million clubhouse, and signed articles of association that led to the current DAC opening its doors in April 1915.
Upon its opening, Crain’s Detroit Business reported, DAC members controlled 90 percent of the world’s auto production. Members have included Henry Ford and every generation of the automotive world’s most famous family since, along with many other automotive industry leaders such as John DeLorean and Roger Penske. The famed Ford Mustang, as well as Northwest Airlines, were conceived at the DAC.
Today, the DAC’s nearly 4,400 members represent more than 2,000 companies, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. The makeup consists of more than 2,900 resident members, 400 intermediate (ages 21-33) and nearly 1,100 clergy, broader U.S. and international members. Women, who were first allowed as members in 1986, now make up roughly 12 percent of membership (Mary Kramer, a Publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, served as the club’s first, and so far only, female president in 2003, the publication noted.)
The club’s intermediate membership category for younger members, currently capped at 400, has a waiting list, Gillary told Crain’s Detroit Business.
Resident members (those with voting rights), pay an entrance fee of $3,500 and $337 monthly dues.
The Crain’s Detroit Business report noted that The Detroit Club, which opened in 1892, closed for good last year, when its longtime home was auctioned, and that The Renaissance Club closed in 2010 to merge with The Skyline Club in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich.
The Crain’s Detroit Business report also provided an update on The Detroit Golf Club, noting that the recession dropped the club’s membership to roughly 550 members, but that it has since recovered to 638, according to Chief Operating Officer Michael Strain.
“We’re in the dues business; when you lose a third of the membership, you lose a lot,” Strain said. “It’s more than initiation fees and what it costs to get in the door. The clubs that are successful are those that find ways through their membership to sponsor new members.”
The Detroit Golf Club maintained services while drastically dropping its initiation fee to $6,500 from $40,000 during the recession, Strain told Crain’s Detroit Business. Its fees have since risen to $13,500 with plans to reach $20,000 by 2020. The club’s dues are currently $600 per month.
“We didn’t alter our service and that’s what kept us steady,” Strain said.
The DAC had also faced struggles through the recession, with membership dropping to around 2,300 members, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Much of its new growth has come from riding on the inclusion of members’ families, Gillary said.
The club’s focus on family is critical on two fronts, Gillary added—it’s important to members, and it allows access to the next generation of club members.
“We made a strategic plan several years ago to bring in more families here, so parents and children can engage the club together— whether that’s at the pool or over dinner or at one of our many events,” Gillary said. “The sons and daughters of our members represent a very strong part of our intermediate membership.”
Kozyra told Crain’s Detroit Business that he hopes his son, a 30-year-old plant manager, becomes a DAC member.
“My son represents the new guard coming into the industry, and the DAC is really a platform for his generation of professionals to learn,” Kozyra said. “He has an opportunity I didn’t take at his age, to make contacts and find new sources of information from the great minds there. He can rub elbows with the Ford family. There isn’t another place in Detroit where that’s likely to happen.”