Tiger Stadium’s suffering is almost over

Tiger Stadium’s extended pain and suffering is about to end:

What remains of historic Tiger Stadium will be demolished after the city rejected a US$33.4-million proposal by a non-profit group to preserve and renovate the old ballpark. The Economic Development Corp. board voted 7-1 to authorize the complete demolition of the stadium. Detroit Economic Growth Corp. vice-president Waymon Guillebeaux said the stadium will be levelled as soon as a contract is negotiated with a contractor.

“We cannot have a partially demolished building remaining indefinitely,” Guillebeaux told The Associated Press.

Anyone who has taken a drive through Detroit since, oh, 1967 will find that last quote rich indeed, but really, this is the right decision.

Tiger Stadium was as noble and beautiful as a building can be. Rather then be allowed to rust, rot and decay, it should have been somberly imploded on September 28th 1999, with Ernie Harwell, Al Kaline and Willie Horton pushing the detonator while Aretha Franklin sang “Amazing Grace.” It was not imploded, however. It was abused. Billy Crystal was allowed to dump paint on it and pretend it was Yankee Stadium. It was used for Bud Bowl 2006. It was the subject of a photo essay in the Detroit Free Press showing weeds and other non-perfectly-cut, emerald green vegetation growing all over the grounds and even in the stands. Worst of all, it was left there, in plain view of tens of thousands cars passing it each day on I-75, to fall victim to entropy and neglect.

If there is anyone beyond the The Economic Development Corp. who has say in this matter, I implore them to act swiftly, act decisively and act mercifully and allow the wrecking balls to do their work. Because while it’s too late to give that noble building the noble death it deserved, we can end its, and our, misery.

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  1. tadthebad said...

        Kind of cryptic, but it’s what popped into my head (and that is not meant to be in bad taste): is there any connection between the “post-life” suffering of Tiger Stadium and Ted Williams?  Two greats of the game treated in such miserable fashion after they shed their respective, um, mortal coil?  To paraphrase the late Dom Dimaggio, let the monument rest in peace.

  2. Millsy said...

    When I take people into Detroit for the first time and we pass by there, I usually get something like, “What’s that old run-down factory?” as if GM or Ford abandoned it in their current crisis.  Though, it was the case even before they tore down half of it.  It’s sad to have to reply, “No…that’s Tiger Stadium.”

  3. YankeesfanLen said...

    You’re quite correct, Craig.  Went to Tigers Stadium a few times during the 80’s, well before “retro” and found it emminently suitable for the purpose.  If fading memory serves, not too much different than OYS before re-model (or after, for that matter). And somehow, even better sight lines, even with the pillars, than Wrigley.
    My Detroit connection says this has been a much-pursued lost cause for years now.  However, where is progress-nothings going to go there?

  4. Randy said...

    I drove by the stadium last Sunday and snapped a few shots with my camera phone. I knew it might be my last chance. It was definitely a moving experience, despite knowing that tearing it down is probably the right thing to do.

  5. J. McCann said...

    Under heavy security, they should have one last weekend of softball and/or semi-pro ball there and then blow the place up.  Then they can lock the doors on Detroit and there will be no need any human to step foot in the city again.

  6. Detroit Michael said...

    How disfunctional is it that half the stadium was torn down and then they paused for a year while trying to figure out what if anything to do with the remaining half of the stadium?

    Also, does anyone else find it odd that we had all this nostagic wailing for Tiger Stadium built circa 1912 but yet there was very little questioning while the Lions needed a new stadium (complete with substantial taxpayer funding) to replace the Pontiac Silverdome built circa 1975?

  7. Stu said...

    Why, exactly, is it appropriate to tear down what’s left of Tiger Stadium?

    Because it’s not what it once was? Because Detroit needs another vacant lot? Because it offends you that the political process has held up the (very good) idea of using what’s left of the stadium for offices, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, and a field for local kids to play baseball?

    The people involved with the Tiger Stadium Conservancy have busted their tails to try to find a way to preserve what’s good about the park while using it to bring businesses into Corktown.

    Have you driven by the park lately, Craig? Have you seen how noble it looks with just the grandstand remaining? It’s fantastic—just the kind of edifice that could draw in businesses, curious tourists, etc.

    Demolition will cost the city more money than sitting on it for a while and letting Corktown Develoment Co. and other agencies try to actually bring businesses in. What this really is about is graft for the demolition company and the DEDC board wanting to retain its “power” by telling concerned citizens to keep out of “their” business. I’d have expected a deeper look at the issue from you, not this kind of silly sniping.

  8. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Stu—I can’t speak to the specifics of the Conservancy’s plans and I can’t speak to whatever forces are at work in Detroit politics regarding demolition.  This is almost exclusively an emotional issue for me. You can call the results of that silly sniping if you wish, but it’s something else.  Something more akin to one’s feelings about putting loved ones on life support or something.  Yes, there are arguments in both directions, but ultimately it comes down to belief and gut, and that’s where I am with this.

    My sentiment on this—which I think has come through pretty clear in my writings—is based almost exclusively on personal, irrational and emotional feelings about Tiger Stadium that can be summed up as follows: (a) they never sould have stopped playing baseball there; (b) once they did stop playing baseball there they never should have kept it hanging around, because it was a building with a single, wonderful purpose; and (c) it causes me great pain to see the stadium in the interminable limbo in which it has sat for most of the past decade and from which it shows no signs of emerging any time soon.

    I’m sure many people disagree with me on that, but understand that you’re disagreeing with my feelings, not my logic, because I haven’t been terribly interested in bringing logic to bear on ths subject.  Because of that you’re entitled to dismiss my writings on this in any real debate about Tiger Stadium. I’m venting, not trying to persuede.

    But since we’re talking about it, let me address that limbo, though:  When a movement with preservation aspirations like the Conservancy has such a difficult time raising the cash it needs in a timely fashion, one necessarily has to question the viablity and advisability of the preservation project itself. Yes, I know 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 this project off the ground, why can anyone expect that there will be the will or ability to maintain it once it gets going?

    Though I’m not from Detroit itself, I root for Detroit. 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 embarassed by Autoworld.  I worry that whatever the carcass of Tiger Stadium is attached to will suffer the same fate, and it will once again revert to abandoned property.  I’d really hate to see that.  If I’m simply missing the point on all of this, by all means enlighten me, but to the casual observer, this looks like a pipe dream and wishcasting.

  9. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Oh, and yes, I have driven by Tiger Stadium since the partial demolition.  Keeping in mind that this is also a matter of personal opinion, I do not think that it’s noble. It actually makes me really sad.

  10. Kam said...

    Since Detroit Economic Growth Corp does not have any plans for this area, I agree with Stu that the Conservancy should be given a chance to develop the land. 

    This sounds like a plan to appease the Tigers management.  Why can’t the land just be auctioned off be put to use.  The new owners could then decide on the best use for the property and bring a little investment and development into a deteriorating city.

  11. Glenn said...

    This is truly sad, the city of Detroit official should not be able to allow the historic building of Tiger Stadium to be demolished. There were plenty of people willing to put up there own money, sweat and tears to preserve it, but then some nobody who knows nothing about Tiger history, Waymon Guillebeaux and the new appointed Mayor Bicks (who you better not re-elect Detroit)just go ahead with it. Applause aplause for the judge who had halted it for now!! Amen! Goofball unknowledgeable politicians…

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