The city of Detroit announced that demolition contracts for Tiger Stadium have been awarded to two Michigan firms — and that the wrecking ball may arrive within weeks.
At issue now is whether or not a local preservation group will be able to save some remnants of the old ballpark. Their plan, which lacks funding, would preserve parts of the stadium from dugout to dugout including the exterior facade. If the preservationists are unsuccessful, the city intends to completely demolish Tiger Stadium and allow the demolition contractors to sell it for scrap.
Tiger Stadium is no longer a viable venue for any major league sports team. No one questions that. But what bothers me most is the way the Detroit Tigers have completely abandoned their heritage at The Corner and refuse to assist the preservation effort in any way. One would assume that, with Mike Ilitch’s backing, something truly creative and exciting could be developed at Michigan & Trumbull that would promote the Tigers’ history and evolution. Instead, Ilitch perceives the fabled ballpark as a threat to Comerica Park and its revenue. What incredible shortsightedness.
There’s a saying that goes something like this: “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.” One day — and probably very soon — another Detroit landmark is going to disappear before our very eyes. In a matter of weeks, 112 years of Detroit baseball history will be reduced to a mangled heap of scrap metal and concrete and our old friend, who took so long to grow, will become only a memory.
For years, I have advocated the sale of Tiger Stadium to the private sector so that individual entrepreneurs could decide the fate of the old ballpark. Instead, city-owned Tiger Stadium became a political pawn played by Detroit’s politicians. It’s no surprise that the best they could come up with is to turn our beloved ballpark into scrap. After all, that’s what most of Detroit has become after 35 years of political dictatorship.
Aerial shot of Tiger Stadium in its current condition.