Friday, April 20, 2012

Tigers Stadium Centennial

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The Boston Red Sox host the Yankees this afternoon at Fenway and have taken over all ESPN outlets to celebrate 100 years at Fenway Park. BTW - screw you Boston for stealing all the headlines today. So glad the Tigers swept the Sox to start the year.

There will be no national televised game or role out of franchise stars at the corner of Michigan and Trumball today, just a few fans grilling and playing catch, but Tigers Stadium (Nevin Field) also turns 100 today.

Props to the Detroit Free Press for their coverage of Tigers Stadium centennial, you can find more @freepsports. I'll turn you're attention there if you'll looking for a nostalgic trip along the lines of Ty Cobb, Willie Horton, Al Kaline, Hank Greenberg, Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammall and "Sweet" Lou Whitaker, Sparky Anderson, Cecil Fielder, and other Tigers great.

I remember my lone trip to Tigers Stadium as a kid. It was 19 years ago this week (wow). It was memorable for two reasons. I got a signed Ernie Harwell highlight cassette as we entered the gates. Second, the Tigers beat the Oakland A's as Sparky picked up his 2,000 victory. I was ten and didn't remember that the Tigers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth against Dennis Eckersly sparked by a Rob Deer single, but that's what this recap tells me. *The internet is awesome. I found the box score.

Former All-Star Robert Fick hit a grand slam in the eighth inning in the last game at Tigers Stadium as the Tigers beat the Royals 8-2, September 27, 1999. The following spring, the Tigers moved into Comerica Park. It's been a good move for the Tigers franchise and the city of Detroit as Comerica Park, Ford Field, and a renovated Fox Theater have drastically improved downtown. Unfortunately, the years since have not been kind to Nevin Field at Michigan and Trumball and the poor leadership of the City of Detroit deserves much of the blame.

Instead of preserving or protecting the Tigers historic legacy at The Corner, the City of Detroit holds out hope for a special development project such as a Walmart at the historic site. 

After ten years of rejecting plans to use the Stadium and just as Ernie Harwell and Tiger Stadium Conservancy were making strong headway into raising funds to preserve the Stadium and make it viable once again, the City of Detroit hurried the demolition of the Stadium, and one of the cities greatest landmarks.

A year ago, the Detroit Economic Development Council rejected a $65 million redevelopment plan for the site that included two non-profits, a charter school, housing and retail space that would have also maintained the field as a community resource and green space. What might have been?

Just last fall, Chevolet presented a fully funded plan to keep baseball at The Corner by pledging the funds and labor maintenance to turn the site into a Little League baseball field, so that future generations could continue to play the game at Nevin Field. The DEDC rejected that plan.

People still show at The Corner. They mow the lawn, grill, and play ball. The site still has meaning and history for Tigers fans. 

It's a damn shame that the City of Detroit fails to recognize, let alone try and preserve, the historic legacy of the site of Tigers Stadium. That the DEDC views it as just another empty lot (not exactly a rarity in Detroit) to be development is beyond disillusioned. It is a statement of the lack of leadership from the City. Instead of celebrating the future of the next 100 years at The Corner we're left shaking our heads at how such a treasured place of so many memories can be so devalued by the city.

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