If only Tiger Stadium could have been saved, it would have been part of a renaissance of the Corktown area of Detroit, where gentrification is in full force.
When the Detroit Tigers moved to Comerica Park and abandoned Tiger Stadium, the future of Corktown was written off by many in the greater Detroit area. Without Tigers fans streaming into town, the bar and restaurants would dry up, according to the conventional wisdom. Goodbye, Nemo’s.
A funny thing happened: after years of decline, the area has rebounded: the general comeback of Detroit also was true in Corktown, where trendy restaurants, coffeeshops and other retail emerged as economic drivers. You know things have changed when upscale Italian eateries open their doors in Corktown.
That’s what it so much sadder that Tiger Stadium didn’t survive. A summer-collegiate Northwoods League team playing in a scaled-down ballpark (shown at the top) with a Tigers history museum anchored by Ernie Harwell’s personal memorabilia collection would have been a perfect complement to the area gentrification. The irony, of course, is that Corktown is becoming one of those distinctive, creative neighborhoods that generally eschew the sort of big-box retailer — who are rapidly becoming rarer and rarer as the economy shifts (see the issues faced by Best Buy as a constructive example) — Detroit foresaw as the future of the site.
Images of Tiger Stadium in its final days courtesy of Ripken Design.
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