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New Tiger Stadium to sport artificial turf

New Detroit ballpark

Despite outrage from traditionalists, the field at the new ballpark planned for Detroit’s old Tiger Stadium site will sport artificial turf, as the grass maintained by volunteers could go away.

The Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL), which has spearheaded fundraising for the $15.6 million project, will move ahead with the artificial turf when construction begins in April. PAL has raised $11 million toward the construction, including a $3 million federal grant overseen by the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy. A volunteer group, the Navin Field Grounds Crew, has maintained the old Tiger Stadium field through thick and thin for the last five years, and they oppose the move. From the Detroit Free Press:

Speaking at an event at DTE Energy’s downtown headquarters to celebrate PAL hitting its initial fund-raising goal, Richey said artificial turf is both cheaper to maintain and more adaptable for a multisport facility that will see daily use.

“Primarily it’s the durability of the surface and then just the maintenance that goes into it,” [PAL CEO Tim] Richey told the Free Press at the event. “We’re trying to get thousands of kids a chance to play on there. We want to program the site for hours at a time during the week, give lots of people a chance to play there, so synthetic surface just makes better sense for us.”…

“What we expect to do is have the markings out there for baseball but then be able to change the lines,” Richey said. “So  we can play football out there, soccer out there, we can play lacrosse out there. So the lines will be erasable.”

The decision may not be final. Though the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has signed off on using the federal fund to build the new facility, the group is advocating that the infield remain intact but the rest of the field be replaced by artificial turf.

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