And again, we’re one step closer to the end of Tiger Stadium.

A judge has told The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy that enough is enough:

“It appears that the plaintiff has been given every opportunity on this project,” said Judge Prentis Edwards. “The plaintiff has simply failed to come up with the requisite funding” . . . Edwards said that given the harm to the city and repeated extensions of time for the conservancy to finance its proposal to redevelop what remains of the stadium, emergency relief was not in order.

No matter how sympathetic you are towards the Conservancy’s efforts here, at some point you have to face reality, and reality dictates that when a movement with preservation aspirations like the Conservancy has such a difficult time raising the cash it needs in a timely fashion, the viablity and advisability of the preservation project itself is dubious at best. Yes, charitable giving has all but dried up in Detroit and that there are many legitimate reasons why even the best of plans could suffer trouble like this, but if there isn’t the general will or ability to get a Tiger Stadium transformation off the ground, how can anyone expect that there will be the will or ability to maintain a community center or a Michigan Sports Hall of Fame or what have you? Even if the Conservancy were successful in step one, odds are that steps two, three and four would falter in similar fashion and that the remaining portion of Tiger Stadium would be in peril in its new form just as it is in its old form.

Don’t get me wrong: I root for Detroit and want to one day see the return of the Detroit in which my parents grew up and which they so fondly recall and recount. I’m a realist, however, and I’ve seen many big preservation and urban renewal ideas like this fizzle in the past. I’m still embarrassed by Autoworld. I worry that whatever Tiger Stadium is attached to will suffer the same fate, and it will once again revert to abandoned property. I’d hate to see that more than I’d hate to see the wrecking balls take down what’s left of the best ballpark there ever was.

UPDATE: “Shortly before noon, two cranes, a bulldozer and a water cannon had moved onto the site, and workers with hard hats began to work on the demolition.”

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  1. Rob² said...

    The real shame in all of this is on the Tigers for letting it get to this point.  Ideally, they should have planned and helped to preserve the old ballpark ten years ago.  Absent that, they should have ensured its demolition within a year of leaving.

    And that doesn’t even bring up the years of willful neglect for the building itself and the area around Michigan and Trumbull for which they are responsible and used as leverage to move to Comerica.

    Thank God the Red Sox were sold to someone with a big more imagination, because Fenway was on its way down this path before John Henry and Co. bought the team.

  2. Michael said...

    The other real shame is that this stadium is the last great piece of what’s left in Detroit altogether.

  3. Greg Simons said...

    @Rob^2 – the Tigers let it get to this point because until recently Ilich was being paid something like $400k a year for “maintenance and security” of the old ballpark.  He milked it for everything he could, like every good MLB owner does, then wanted it gone when it posed a possible threat, however minor, to his wealth maximization.

  4. Mark Armour said...

    The real shame is that the Tigers aren’t still playing there.  That was an effort I strongly supported, and still believe that a well maintained Tiger Stadium (before they let it go to hell) was a better ballpark than what they have now, and that the money spent on Comerica could have been better spent elsewhere.

    The Red Sox got lucky.  They tried for 40 years to get a ballpark built by the city.  Yawkey wanted a dome in the 1960s to share with the Patriots.  They wanted a cookie cutter (like Riverfront) in the 1970s, and they tried for a modern mallpark in the 1990s.  The current group came in and just realized it wasn’t going to happen.  What they did in response was turn the old park into a jewel rather than the dump it was becoming.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Ain’t that the truth.  Just imagine how cool a refurbished Tiger Stadium would be today.

  6. YankeesfanLen said...

    Craig’s last comment…..I don’t know, OYS was refurbed in the early 70s and somehow that was never to everyone’s satisfaction, but the neighborhood bounded back when everything else did.
    Detroit’s a tough case, biggest population decline (and fastest, starting in 50s), downtown tough to get anything done (I believe Hudson’s on Woodward was the largest dept. store in the country, Hank the Deuce had to put in major money for the Ren Center) and a current administration that is at loose ends.
    No one at the time thought going “all in” on the auto industry was such a bad bet.

  7. Rod Nelson said...

    The point lost in all this is that the DEGC never acted in good faith and the Conservancy had arranged for over 70% of their funding goal. In this economy, particularly in the city which is at the epicenter of the economic meltdown, that is nothing short of miraculous. There are no other plans for the property and the far greater need for demo dollars is to spend it on blighted neighborhoods which present a safety issues to our most vulnerable citizens, kids and the elderly. The OTSC failed to win the hearts and minds with details for the planned uses for this remarkably unique preservation project, but I assure you, it would have been beyond fabulous.  Respectfully, those of you not in Detroit, and even many that are, that have depended on the mainstream media are not even remotely well informed as to all the issues that were at play in the restoration of Navin Field.

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