First off, let me get this off my chest. I’m pissed.
There, I don’t really feel better, but that will at least let you read this knowing my frame of mind. It was announced earlier this week that the city of Detroit was going to raze Tiger Stadium. They also released some very cute pictures of what they plan on doing with the site once the stadium is destroyed. The spin doctors were out in full force and there were a lot of mistruths and half truths being flung about. Let me just say, I’m not surprised that sites like this are around.
In a day of ferris wheels, retractrable domes and food courts, Tiger Stadium’s claim to fame was simple. In no other major league park could you get closer to the action. So if you love baseball, you loved Tiger Stadium. Think getting in the front row of the upper deck at Comerica Park is a nice seat? That’s nothing because the closest upper deck seat at Comerica Park is further from the ball field then the furthest upper deck seat at Tiger Stadium. And if you sat in the front rows of the upper deck behind home plate, you were literally on top of the action.
The biggest myth that the spinners in Detroit would like you to believe was that there was no viable alternative presented to the city that would keep the stadium intact. This is a flat out lie, and I encourage you to check out the website Corner Chatter. There you can download two plans that were basically ignored by the city council that have money behind them and would have allowed for the stadium to remain. The biggest problem would have been that this might compete with Mr. Ilitch’s ballclub so neither plan really got off the ground.
And speaking of Mr. Ilitch, he’s been paid several hundred thousand dollars a year to “maintain” the ball park. I’d like to see what he exactly spent this money on. Security is nonexistent and it appears the “maintenance” has been little more then cutting the grass. Tiger Stadium was left to die just so this decision could appear so pleasant in many people’s eyes.
Now, let’s get to the “plan.” Apparantly there’s going to be some retail and condos, and a portion of the field will be left for little league play. There’s just one problem. The city doesn’t have the money to deveop the site, and nobody’s stepped up to develop it either. Just like nobody’s stepped up to develop the rest of the vacant land in the city. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d be willing to bet that five years from now, the site will still be vacant.
Stuck in the middle of all this are the residents of Corktown, who you also have to feel for. They’ve had to have the monolith sit in their back yard and watch it die. I can’t completely blame them for wanting it gone but would this have been the case had some of these alternative plans to keep the stadium up gone through?
And one last thing, Michigan and Trumbull LLC, who have been instrumental in trying to save Tiger Stadium, offered to maintain the park for free until a plan that would keep the stadium standing was found. You’d think a city strapped for cash would be willing to jump all over this, but I guess they’d rather throw money to the local millionaire instead.
And if you want to educate yourself on the subject, the first place I’d start is the fantastic DVD, Stranded at the Corner. You get the facts on the fight to save the stadium along with some fantastic history of the old ballpark. I’ve watched it once and I plan on doing so again here soon, and if you’re a Tiger fan, I highly recommend it. You’ll also get to see the plaque that’s recently been stolen.
I also recommend you check out Field of Schemes, which is a great resource for any and all stadium related issues. Tiger Stadium has been a hot topic lately on the site. And I also recommend John Brattain’s column on the whole situation at the Hardball Times. Finally, you can check out Save Tiger Stadium for some great facts and historical information.
I know none of what I’ve written will change a thing, and I really feel for the people who have fought for years to try to keep the old ballpark. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t know the facts though and hopefully a few eye’s are opened to what’s going on before the ballpark is taken down.