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MLB pitches youth academy for Tiger Stadium site

Tiger Stadium

Officials with Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy are preparing a plan for a baseball academy at the old Tiger Stadium site, but Detroit officials are dismissing the plan as a “scam.”

Darrell Miller, MLB vice president of youth and facility development, has been touring Detroit sites for a potential youth-baseball academy and has discussed the prospects with city officials. At this point, it’s important to look back at the twisted history of Tiger Stadium after the Tigers departed for Comerica Park. The city was openly hostile to any proposal reuse of the ballpark; Ripken Baseball and the late Ernie Harwell floated a plan to turn the original Navin Field grandstand into a Tigers history museum and summer-collegiate facility and even had federal financing lined up, but city officials rejected all plans and went ahead with a demolition of the entire facility. Since then the city has rejected any effort to re-use the old playing field; it would be an ugly, grow-out lot not for the efforts of the Navin Field Grounds Crew to maintain the turf and stage events like vintage baseball at The Corner.

Now, normally the presence of someone like a Darrell Miller — who actually has money for a new facility — would be an exciting development for officials in a city like Detroit, which needs all the help it can get. But, given the open antipathy from said Detroit officials toward keeping the Corktown site alive for baseball, it’s no surprise Detroit officials are opening dissing the MLB plan. From the Detroit News:

George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which controls the city-owned Tiger Stadium property, says he has met with Miller and is convinced the deal is not solid. Jackson painted the idea as the latest in a long line of plans high on sentiment for the site but fell far short on basic fundamentals.

“Show me the money and I would be more than happy to do the deal,” Jackson said. “But there is no money. The Tigers have already said no to this deal. You just can’t come to the table without any money.”…

“It’s early, but I would say we are really, really close,” to a detailed plan, Miller said.

The price tag for a youth academy is between $4 million and $6 million; there is already $3 million in federal funds available for the project. This sort of project is right in line with the MLB plan to build youth academies across the country.

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