So much for the elusive big-box retailer Detroit officials were hoping to lure: a new plan for the old Tiger Stadium site calls for the playing field to remain intact after being sold to a float manufacturer for under $900,000.
The proposed plan calls for the city to sell the site to the nonprofit Parade Company, which makes floats for Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade, for between $800K and $900K. The nonprofit would need to raise $15 million or so for a large warehouse to be built in what was the outfield of the old ballpark. Meanwhile, the playing field would be intact and used for youth baseball. It’s not the most exciting of plans and really ignores the rich history of Tiger Stadium, which opened the same day as Fenway Park in 1912.
Let’s sum up the many, many ways Detroit — and the Detroit Tigers, by the way, are not innocent in this whole mess, showing a remarkable lack of leadership in the matter — screwed up what should have been a straightforward historic-preservation process. First, the ballpark was allowed to deteriorate while the Tigers reaped the benefits of a city contract to mow the land and patrol the grounds. Then, convicted felon (then Mayor) Kwame Kilpatrick and other city officials pushed a plan to tear down the ballpark in the hopes the site could be redeveloped for a big-box retailer. The ballpark was torn down in stages: first came the distinctive curved outfield seating, then the historic original grandstand dating back to when the ballpark was known as Navin Field. Along the way Kilpatrick and other city officials ignored feasibility plans indicating the facility could support a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team and pleas from the likes of Ernie Harwell to keep the grandstand as part of a Detroit baseball museum. Finally, the old grandstand was torn down, and volunteers have maintained the playing field.
So now, after so much in the way of stupid decisions and short-sighted planning, Detroit is finally reduced to selling the ballpark site for less than a million dollars after ballpark enthusiasts raised almost $4 million for grandstand preservation (money that the city wants to see diverted to the warehouse project). With the Corktown neighborhood on the rebound, a renovated Navin Field grandstand and summer-collegiate baseball could have been an integral part of Detroit’s revival. Way to go, Detroit.
Image of Tiger Stadium by John Moist.
RELATED STORIES: “Business is better now than when Tiger Stadium was around”; Detroit spurns Chevy offer to maintain Tiger Stadium field; Volunteers maintaining Tiger Stadium field; Detroit rejects redevelopment plan for Tiger Stadium site; Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy: Demolition of Tiger Stadium was unlawful, reckless; Tiger Stadium demolition resumes; Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy “shocked, dismayed” about decision to tear down Tiger Stadium; Detroit commission votes to tear down Tiger Stadium; Federal money for Tiger Stadium receives initial approval; Tiger Stadium preservation takes another step forward; Tiger Stadium preservationists: We have the money
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