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Hamtramck Stadium renovations moves forward

The Hamtramck Stadium renovation effort is moving forward after more than a million dollars was donated by the Kresge Foundation and the Wayne County Commission.

Hamtramck Stadium originally opened in 1930 and was home to a variety of Negro Leagues teams, including the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves. Funding for the ballpark’s renovation has come from a variety of sources, as the City of Hamtramck has been working with Smith Group JJR on a development plan for Hamtramck Stadium. Built by businessman John Roesink in 1930 as the home of the Stars, the ballpark still exists but isn’t used for baseball; the original grandstand (enhanced in 1940 with WPA money) has been shut off, but the playing field is still used by the local community. However, the flagpole and pitchers’ mound are still there. The renovation will include installing a new roof above the grandstand, restoring the seating and the brick exterior, and installing accessible seating.

The Wayne County Commission approved an $850,000 grant proposal from Executive Warren C. Evans to fund the renovation of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, while the the Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Program is donating $200,000. In addition, the $2.6 million restoration project is being funded by the Detroit Tigers Foundation (an affiliate of Ilitch Charities), Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Michigan Municipal League Foundation, the Hamtramck Parks Conservancy and through an African American Civil Rights grant as administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.

“The restoration of Hamtramck Stadium – and the grand vision to build off this transformation to create a wholly unique recreational and cultural community space – is an unparalleled opportunity for the residents of Hamtramck, one of our state’s most diverse and dynamic communities, as well as the entire Detroit metro region,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of the Detroit Program at the Kresge Foundation, via press release. “The best way to honor our region’s rich and storied past is to not only preserve special places such as Hamtramck Stadium, but also to reimagine them to be more accessible, to become shared community assets and to endure for many generations to come.”

Work is expected to begin later this summer with an anticipated completion by the end of 2021 and is led by Detroit-based contractor DMC Consultants, with design from Detroit-based SmithGroup. The project also has a new title: Norman “Turkey” Stearnes Field at Historic Hamtramck Stadium. 

Hamtramck Stadium is one of five former Negro Leagues homes still standing; that august group includes Indianapolis’s Bush Stadium, Jacksonville’s J. P. Small Memorial Stadium (formerly known as Durkee Field), Birmingham’s Rickwood Field and Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium.

Rendering courtesy SmithGroup.

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