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PAL, Neighborhood Spar Over Use of Old Tiger Stadium Site

New Detroit ballpark

Work on a new sports facility is continuing apace at the old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit, but the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) and area residents are sparring over exactly how the playing field will be used.

The issue is access. Neighbors are saying PAL isn’t being open about when the playing field will open for the general public and youth leagues, while PAL says some times will need to be saved for paying customers. PAL is paying toward a $20-million, 2,500-seat youth sports facility and a new PAL headquarters at the site. This is a latest of spats between neighbors, enthusiasts and PAL over the future of the Tiger Stadium site: enthusiasts and some neighbors wanted to see a grass field maintained in a baseball diamond, while PAL moved ahead with a open plan with synthetic turf allowing for both baseball and other sports. The lure of being able to play catch on the same diamond where Ty Cobb, Al Kaline and Hank Greenberg played is strong and volunteers with the Navin Fields Ground Crew worked very hard to revive the Tiger Stadium playing field, but some advocates aren’t sure PAL will allow this. From the Detroit Free Press:

Tim McKay, a longtime Corktown resident, said the leaders of PAL haven’t been as transparent about their plans for the facility as residents had hoped. He said residents worry that PAL’s Willie Horton Field of Dreams, as it’s been renamed in honor of the Tigers great, will be significantly less available for public  use than initially proposed.

“Ownership of this park is really a neighborhood issue,” McKay said. “It’s 150 years that something has been there for the general public. To overlook that, they’re just not doing what they should be doing. It’s turned around a little bit from what was originally proposed. And they just haven’t presented their case transparently and in an honest way.”…

But Richey also said there will be college, high-school and other sports events as well as movie nights, concerts and other activities for the community. He said PAL will ensure that there there are daily public hours for the field but also will offer it up for private use during daytime hours when children are in school. During summer months, he said, there will be additional daytime youth access.

The facility needs to make money, Richey said.

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