The last tie to Tiger Stadium — the playing field, maintained by volunteers after the grandstand was torn down in 2009 — is on its way out, as bulldozer crews were on hand today to tear up the surface to make way for a synthetic turf and a $20-million, 2,500-seat youth sports facility.
The new facility, which will also include Detroit’s Police Athletic League offices, will allow PAL to increase its programming, which serves some 13,000 kids. The new facility is expected to be open in a June 2017. And while it’s the sort of programming that can affect the lives of many at-need kids, it’s a bittersweet time for the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who took it upon themselves to take over maintenance of a baseball field overgrown with weeds and turn it into a playable area. Their hard work gave fans a chance to roam the same field where Ty Cobb, Al Kaline and Hank Greenberg played. True fans who poured their time and money into the field, they kept the Tiger Stadium spirit alive long after the team ownership turned their backs on an amazing legacy. From MLive.com:
“At one point, I figured I wanted to get one more look at it while there was something still standing,” said [Tim] Meloche, of St. Clair Shores. “Next thing I knew, I was down here every chance I had.”…
Despite the fact that a stadium will once again stand at the storied corner of Michigan and Trumbull avenues, [Joe] Michnuk wishes natural grass could’ve been used for the sake of tradition.
“We’re disappointed and hurt that they’re not going to maintain a natural grass field,” Michnuk said. “There’s been a natural grass field here since 1896, and it’s a shame that they can’t keep that.”…
“It’s been about everyday people like us meeting everyday, Tigers fans that wanted to come down here and play catch with their dads, or have a game, or just share a memory,” Michnuk said. “That’s the real shame of it, is that everyday people will no longer be able to do that.”
(The rationale for the synthetic turf: its durability means it can be used for all sorts of events and athletic contests for most of the year.)
PAL officials say they’ll have the field open during specific times daily to allow just this. And the entire area is changing: there’s an additional $33-million development down the block, as Detroit rallies from some really terrible times.
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