Tiger Stadium to get wrecking ball

Finally, something is going to happen with Tiger Stadium. It is going to be demolished this fall. There don’t appear to be a ton of details, but the macro idea is to replace it with retail shops and housing. The area that comprises the playing field will be preserved, along with the dugouts, and used as a little league diamond and park.

I think this is all pretty good news if it comes to fruition. The city loses one more vacant building, and the field area itself will be preserved in some fashion. Also, the people in the Corktown community were invovled in the planning and are on board.

Of course there are plans to auction off anything that people will pay for.

What I really hope they’ll do is allow fans one more time to be inside the stadium. I know there are safety concerns, but people were allowed onto the field for the Super Bowl party. I’d be satisfied with that, and would even pay a nomial fee for the opportunity. It would be a chance for one last glimpse. I would be a chance to show my son where I became a Tiger fan.

24 Comments

  1. Joey C.

    June 16, 2006 at 7:51 am

    If this project ever comes to fruition, I’ll be amazed. How much dough are we talking? Where is the dough coming from?

  2. Jeff K.

    June 16, 2006 at 8:01 am

    The Freep article said 3-6 million to demo Tiger Stadium, paid for by the city. Private developers would pay for everything else.

    You knew this day had to be coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take. Hopefully I can get back to Michigan and see the stadium one last time before it happens.

  3. Kyle J

    June 16, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Mixed feelings about one last visit. Would like to show my son the stadium, as well. On the other hand, it’s so run down, I’d hate to have that be my last memory of the place.

  4. Joey C.

    June 16, 2006 at 9:13 am

    Watching the stadium decay has been a long, sad affair, but the pain of watching it torn down will be far more acute. As soon as they left the place we were assured a sad ending–at least this way we can get it over with and move on.

    I jus

  5. Dennis

    June 16, 2006 at 9:30 am

    i just want the chance to buy a few of the seats, to put in my back yard around the fire pit

  6. Anne

    June 16, 2006 at 9:41 am

    All I can say is I get depressed every time I drive by old Tiger Stadium. It’s probably for the best to knock it down and move on. Fortunately my kids are old enough to have gone to games there.

    My best memory is going to a game with my dad when I was really young, too young to even understand the game, but I remember walking up up up and around that concrete ramp, walking through the tunnel and coming out into the seating area and suddenly seeing the brilliant green of the field. After all the gray concrete that green hit your eyes like a lightning bolt. It was like Dorothy waking up in Oz.

  7. Vince Galloro

    June 16, 2006 at 11:16 am

    I’m glad that a friend and I made the trip from Chicago to attend a game at Tiger Stadium in 1996. We enjoyed seeing another historic park. Reading this news makes me want to drive to Detroit for a White Sox-Tigers series and take a second look.

    I know what it’s like to see the ballpark of your youth torn down. Time heals.

  8. Scott

    June 16, 2006 at 11:31 am

    I think we all have to keep in mind that these are just plans. Developers and city officials are fond of tossing out pie-in-the-sky plans, but many times they don’t pan out. With that said, I hope these plans do become a reality. I love the old ballpark as much as anyone, but it’s serving no purpose now. Preserving the field and making it a city park is a great idea. Throwing in residential and retail development around it would be a shot in the arm for Detroit’s economy, something that’s badly needed.

  9. Walewander

    June 16, 2006 at 11:35 am

    God, this is depressing. But so was seeing it all derelict last summer… I’ll never forget the two games I got to attend there, nor the hundreds I watched on TV. I’ve never seen a ballpark to match it.

    Hi Vince!

  10. Ian C.

    June 16, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    I’m with Kyle. Being allowed inside Tiger Stadium one last time sounds romantic. But the nostalgia buzz would be killed almost immediately once we saw the current state of the ballpark.

    Tearing it down is long overdue. I hope this finally happens.

  11. Nate

    June 16, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Sad to see it go, but it needs to go. At least this plan respects the site and keeps the field and even baseball at Michigan and Trumbull, unlike some past proposals.

    My own impossible vision was to turn the entire site into a little league baseball facility. There’s room for 4 or 5 ball diamonds while still preserving the infield and having room for needed storage, bathroom and concession buildings, and keeping a few memento’s from the park(like Reggie Jackson’s light tower) and a historic marker or 3.

    This plan is plenty close to that idea. I support it. Here’s hoping it actually happens.

  12. Andrew

    June 16, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    I am glad to think (these are just preliminary plans, of course) that the field and perhaps a part of the old stadium will remain. It would have been awful to have a Wal-Mart there. Can you imagine buying a new shirt in what used to be right field where Al Kaline once roamed? Ugh!

    One more blighted building torn down in Detroit is a good thing. It is far more sad to see it die before our very eyes.

    I would love to have a couple of the seats. That would be so awesome. However (I doubt the wife would like this idea) the good ol’ pee troughs from the men’s room would make a sweet addition to our bathroom 🙂

    I remember going to my first Tigers game and my mom telling me not to go to the bathroom by myself (I have no idea how young I was, but I was pretty young) or else some weirdo might try to take me away. Imagine my horror at having to pee in a trough with a bunch of old guys standing elbow to elbow. I look back at it and laugh now.

    I have written a few posts at my blog, All Things Michigan, today about Tiger Stadium’s demise. A sad day, but a day that has long been coming.

  13. TM

    June 16, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    This news was the first thing I heard this morning on NPR. I have a tough time letting go of the past and have to admit, I still feel comforted knowing the park is still there. That being said, this is the best idea I’ve heard so far and would strongly support it. Corktown needs the boost and it would preserve and honor the history at Michigan and Trumbull.

    I have such fond memories of the old ballpark. By 1999, I had more or less lost interest in baseball and was spending my early 20’s pursuing a music career. My family decided to attend a game during the final week of that last season and it really hit an emotional nerve for me. I credit that day (and the hiring of Tram in 2003) as the beginning of my journey back into the magical world of baseball. I was so inspired at the time that I actually wrote a song about going to games there with my father which appeared on a 2001 release by my band. Having read some of the comments on this string, I realize that many of you might have similar experiences and can relate. Also, with Father’s Day coming up, it’s quite sentimental!

    The album is now out of print and the band has changed its name, but if anyone would like to hear the song it is still available for download at a couple of websites. You can find it on iTunes by searching under the song or band name….

    Song: Michigan and Trumbull
    Band: The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love
    Label: The Telegraph Co. (Released 2001)

    You can also find it for free on Myspace at this address:
    http://www.myspace.com/theorig.....tersoflove

    Billfer, I’ve really enjoyed this blog over the past two years and I love reading the comments from all of the other diehard fans. I appreciate the hard work you put into keeping it current.

    I’m off to Toledo to see the Mudhens tonight. Everyone have a great weekend!

    Tim

  14. johnw

    June 16, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    As a lifelong Michigander who moved to New England six years ago, I am struck by the contrast between the fate of Tiger Stadium and that of Fenway Park.

    Tom Monaghan and Bo “Rusty Girder” Schembechler did their level best to destroy Tiger Stadium, trashing the reputation of the ballpark and neighborhood along the way (they wanted a new place in the suburbs). By the time Ilitch bought the team, it was too late to do much with the old ballpark.

    The former owners of the Red Sox started down this road; Fenway was almost universally believed to be a rundown relic, and its replacement was seen as inevitable. Then the team was sold, and the new owners made a commitment to Fenway. They are renovating it in stages, adding new features, gradually turning it into a showplace and preserving baseball history.

    Could the same thing have happened in Detroit, if the team’s owners had had a positive vision for Tiger Stadium? We’ll never know, and that’s sad. I’ve been to Comerica once, and it struck me as a pretty soulless place.

  15. Steve P.

    June 16, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Just adding to the nostalgia…

    Having been born in ’83, and never having lived within 1500 miles of Detroit, I only got to attend two games at Tiger Stadium, the first being when I was 3. The second was on my ninth birthday, and there was a promotion that allowed children and a parent to walk on the field and, I think, run the bases before the game. It was pretty cool for me, but unbelievable for my dad, who spent decades in Detroit as a Tiger fan.

    The Tigers lost 10-0 to the Yankees.

    To the above commenter, I like Comerica (except the name). It definitely has a soul… Being able to watch the game from the street is part of that, along with its attempt at showcasing Tiger history, and its deep outfield. It’s a good park, and time can make it great.

  16. Anne

    June 16, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Hey TM, welcome back (to baseball, that is).

    And before we get too misty-eyed over Tiger Stadium, let’s not forget it wasn’t exactly the perfect place to watch a ballgame. Remember how the upper deck obscured the view of the lower? Comerica (please for the the love of God don’t call it the “Copa”) at least has good views from every seat. The best Tiger Stadium has going for it is memories and history, not that those aren’t valuable.

    Give Comerica a few more seasons, or better yet a few more decades, and a few winning teams. The soul will be there.

  17. Tim D

    June 17, 2006 at 1:00 am

    I saw probably 150 games at Tiger Stadium between 1965 and 1987. And probably 5 or 6 more after ’87. From the games I saw:

    Best moment: Tigers clinch the ’68 pennant with a 2-1 sudden win over the Yankees.

    Worst moment: DH loss in 1975 to the A’s 11-0 and 16-4. (Yes, I stayed until it was over)

    Best pitching performance: Joe Niekro, 1970, a one hit shutout of the Yankees, lost the no-hitter on an infield hit by Horace Clarke in the 9th.

    Best hitting performance: 10 RBI by Fred Lynn in 1975.

    Team I d: I must have seen the Orioles 25 or 30 times and I think the Tigers won maybe 6. From Frank Robinson to Cal Ripken, the O’s were always trouble. Mike Cuellar drove me nuts.

    Team we always beat: Cleveland. I saw the Tigers win three Openers against the Indians. Luis Tiant beat McLain 2-0 one time and I think that’s the only loss I saw.

    Best defensive player: Mickey Stanley

    Weirdest play: Frank Robinson at bat, Paul Blair on 3rd. Robinson swings and misses and his bat goes flying into the infield. Blair is standing around 6-8 feet off third watching the Tiger SS (?) walk over to pick up the bat. Blair assumes time is out. It isn’t. Bill Freehan ran all the way up the third base line and tagged Blair out. Earl Weaver very nearly had a coronary. Tigers lost anyway. Like I said, the Orioles.

    Best seats: First five rows of the upper deck around the infield. (The bleachers were fun but a loooongg way away.)

    Worst seats: There were lots of bad ones but we sat in obstructed view one night against the Twins and you couldn’t see the batter OR the pitcher.

    Best give away: Bat Day. The kids banged the bats so much they had to start giving them away at the end of the game cuz we were knocking the stadium down. I had a Freehan and a Northrup.

    Longest game: Jim Northrup homers in the 16th to beat the Angels.

    Favorite Tigers: Norm Cash, Gates Brown, Rusty Staub, Milt Wilcox, Mickey Lolich, Champ Summers, Johnny Wockenfuss, Lou Whitaker, John Hiller.

    Favorite Opposition Players: Boog Powell, Nolan Ryan, Tony Oliva, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter, Mickey Mantle, Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner (easily the worst defensive OF I ever saw), Mark Belanger, George Brett.

    Best food: The grilled hot dogs from the concession stand. The boiled ones from the vendor would do in a pinch. Honorable Mention: Vernor’s ice cream on a stick.

    Worst food: Cotton candy. Awful!

    Those urinals were really special. And the cramped hallways. And the parking pretty much sucked. Park in somebody’s yard and hope.

    I’m glad they are taking her down. Whenever I’m in town it hurts to see her sitting there coming apart. I wish they had tried to restore her, but the Tigers never had what I would call a visionary ownership. The city never had a vision either. Too bad. But I like Comerica too and I think it will have plenty of soul if the team plays well.

  18. Jake

    June 17, 2006 at 3:06 am

    Although I understand the costs involved in trying to maintain a stadium that isn’t being used anymore I’m going to miss it along with all the memories. I remember when I was a kid going to a baseball clinic that they had and the excitement I felt getting to set foot on the field. There is so much history to remember at that park. I am going to miss it but, I’m happy to hear that at least portions of it will be preserved.

  19. Kyle J

    June 17, 2006 at 8:08 am

    Great post, Tim D. Thanks.

  20. ripi$money

    June 17, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    I said the same thing on my blog: Let us in one last time.

    This plan is probably the best-case scenario, since we all knew it was going to the wrecking ball sooner or later. Instead of a Wal Mart or big box store, Corktown will be getting what seems to be a promising development complete with the greenspace of a little league diamond. How great will it be for the kids to play on the same field as Ty Cobb, Willie Horton, and the others? It would be great if the shops and homes can be tied in with some nice landscaping, creating a kind of Campus Martius in Corktown.

  21. Scott

    June 17, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    sounds like another gov’t boondoggle to me. So they want to put up “retail space”? Who’s gonna go there to shop? NOBODY!! The demographics of the world have changed – we don’t need to go downtown to shop anymore. This is what all these “city planners” fail to understand. I’m originally from Detroit, live in Tampa, FL now. They did the same thing down here. Know what? NOBODY goes downtown to shop in these places. And the stupid city here keeps subsidizing the place(s) at taxpayer expense. And everybody ignores the “truth” behind all this; something that seems “against the law” to say or think anymore: white people aren’t gonna go downtown and risk their lives to shop, when they can stay in the suburbs and get the job done. You mark my words – this “shopping center retail space” thing is gonna be a taxpayer-albatross that everybody in Wayne County will pay for (again!) And for whose use? The people that live right there in that area of Michigan + Trumbull, that’s who…..

  22. Tim D

    June 17, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    Scott, what is the City of Detroit do? Just burn Corktown down and hope somebody buys up the empty land? They are building retail space AND HOUSING. The City is desperately trying to get some upgraded housing in hopes of getting some people to move in. White people are allowed. You can get a great deal on real estate if you are willing to live in Detroit. Sooner or later people from Westland, Dearborn Heights, Melvindale, Roseville and Redford are going to figure that out. Nobody from Rochester or Troy or Birmingham is going to move into Detroit. But people from Taylor or Romulus or Ecorse might. I can’t blame the City for trying and I think the revitalization of the City, if possible, would be a benefit to the entire state and not just Detroiters. Now if the Big Three can get things figured out, again, maybe SE Michigan will have a fighting chance.

  23. Slashpyne

    June 17, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    This plan (if it happens) is pretty cool. Can you imagine going thru the entry to see kids play on the Tiger Stadium field and using the dugouts?
    I haven’t lived in Michigan since 1990, but always went to Tigers spring training games when I live in Florida. Going to my first regular season game since the late 80s when the Tigers play at Seattle on July 8th

  24. Steve P.

    June 17, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Scott, if you look at it, you’ll see that people are moving back into the cities in droves. Maybe not in Detroit, mind you, but urban renewal is working across the country. And the people who don’t move back into the cities (usually the folks with kids), they still take the kids back into the city for touristy things. Go to downtown Chicago, on any day of the week, any time of day, and you’ll see plenty of foot traffic downtown. (As much as it may disturb you, whites and blacks even walk on the same sidewalk!) My aunt from Westland was amazed when she saw it. The outlook for cities is not hopeless, and Detroit has been fighting for this sort of scenario for a few years now, and it seems to be working a little. Here’s hoping it continues to work.