By Scott Morganroth
When my colleague George Eichorn sent me a photo that the remaining portion of Tiger Stadium was now being demolished, there were chills down my spine.
That's the last thing I need at the moment with back surgery scheduled for June 24Th and a hospital stay which figures to last as much as five days let alone a recovery process that could be up to 12 months.
On January 1st, I took a few pictures of the last part of Tiger Stadium. It was a snowy, cloudy day with the temperature around 10 degrees.
Three days prior, I had lunch with Ernie Harwell on my 46Th birthday and asked him what the odds were of saving Tiger Stadium? Like all of us, he was hoping it would get preserved but didn't appear optimistic.
Although I currently live in Florida, when I heard that Harwell wasn't getting enough cooperation & support from the city of Detroit and decided to no longer work on the committee to save the landmark, this was worse than the Lions 0-16 season.
Bad seasons get fixed and franchises get turned around. But when landmarks get demolished as Harwell's famous home run line, Tiger Stadium is "long gone."
This man was loved by Tigers fans for his memorable calls. But when the same people who listened to his broadcasts in the city disrespected him in his efforts to save Tiger Stadium despite the fact that he was willing to donate some memorabilia and use a "Field of Dreams" concept, this was hard to swallow.
The city's Economic Development Corp. board voted 7-1 to finish the demolition. The non-profit group was unable to come up with $33.4 million for the redevelopment project therefore the of Detroit is paying $400,000 to handle the project.
What bothers me about this is everybody is in a hurry to demolish the building but they have no plans what to do with the land for the economic development.
Now when Metro Detroiters drive on I-75 by Michigan & Trumbull, there will be memories on a vacant piece of property.
I have no problem tearing a building down as long as there is something that's going to be built on the land!
The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium could have been used for youth or Wayne State University baseball. The Tarters at Tiger Stadium would have a nice ring to it.
While I'm unaware of the maintenance costs to run the facility, if all parties could have cooperated & worked together, something could have been worked out. What was left of Tiger Stadium would have made an ideal minor league baseball venue.
When the city of Miami tore down the Orange Bowl which was the site of past Super Bowls, Orange Bowls, College Football National Championships, the Miami Hurricanes, Miami Dolphins, they're using this historic site to build the Florida Marlins a long overdue new ballpark.
If the Marlins keep former Tigers Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, this is where they'll have a chance to have productive careers.
Now the question remains, what will make the most sense for the Tiger Stadium site?
If new Mayor Dave Bing wants to score points with voters as he did with the Detroit Pistons, he'll address the Detroit Red Wings needs and build another Olympia Stadium.
Despite the Red Wings heartbreaking attempt at winning a fifth championship in 13-years to the Pittsburgh Penguins, as much as Joe Louis Arena is a decent facility, it's 30 years old and is one of the oldest stadiums in the NHL, thus it's become outdated. It needs more suites and first class press facilities.
We all know that accessibility will never be a problem at the Tiger Stadium site. The only way to increase economic development is by building newer restaurants, sports bars and memorabilia stores.
Detroit needs to get this decision right!
The national perception around the country is negative. With the auto industry in shambles, the casinos struggling due to lack of disposable income, the sports traditions keep the city in the news especially when the teams are winning. On Fathers Day, the Tigers drew over 40,000 at Comerica Park in their three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here is some advice to you Bing. Follow the city of Miami's plan! It's a good one because the only way to connect the past, present and future generations is by preserving historic sites and creating new traditions.
It would be great to see the next Steve Yzerman playing at the Corner of Michigan & Trumbull.
Scott Morganroth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scott Morganroth
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