Lost in yesterday’s big news regarding the proposed rail system was another inch forward towards the demolition of Tiger Stadium. “Detroit’s Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city, awarded the demolition contract to a joint venture of MCM Management Corp. of Bloomfield Hills and The Farrow Group of Detroit.” (John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press).
I drive by “the old ballpark” occasionally (well just to get a burrito in Mexican town most Tuesdays), and with every pass by the corner of Michigan and Trumbull my memories of the events that took place there fade further away. However, I’m not writing my first post on Detroit Army because I want to reminisce. That is not what we are about.
After reading Detroit Army and reflecting on the comments by its readers, I realize that we all want to move forward, and part of moving forward, is leaving behind the past. While the idea of saving a corner of the existing structure would be a deserving tribute to the greats that roamed the field for over a century, it would be another contributing factor adding to an already complicated, costly and tumultuous process. I’m not saying throw the idea out completely, but we should not let our fondness for our past detract from our future once again.
See John Gallagher’s article about the project below.
Group lobbies to save part of Tiger Stadium after Detroit awards demolition contract
On June 25, 2008, Mike Hicks of the Detroit News writes that the preparation for Tiger Stadium's long awaited demolition has begun.
"MCM Management Corp. of Bloomfield Hills and Farrow Group of Detroit have started the process of obtaining permits to raze the stadium and sell parts for scrap, according to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. The city's quasi-public agency handles development and is executing a plan approved by the City Council and Mayor Kilpatrick."
On the other hand,
"Kilpatrick set an Aug. 1 deadline for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy Group, which has said was enough time to prove it has a $12 million to $15 million financial plan to save the baseball diamond, 3,000 seats and an area that would house Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell's sports memorabilia collection, some of which is now at the main Detroit Public Library."
(Mike Hicks/Detroit News
It's unclear whether the conservancy will be able to come up with the money in time, but it is worth noting that the conservancy group finally has a website up and running which states that "The reports of Tiger Stadium’s demise are greatly exaggerated." I don't know if they know something that we don't, but it's clear that they do not have the money to move forward with their project yet as they have consistently missed deadlines set for them. Additionally, considering that the Tigers moved out of Tiger Stadium eight years ago, to put it mildly, the website campaign seems oddly late to the party.
Tiger Stadium Conservancy
"This time, it has really, really started."
"Ferocious-looking stadium-demolishing machines are ripping apart the wall and everything behind it on the north side of the stadium, near the Fisher Freeway service drive, along what used to be called Kaline Drive. In baseball terms, that would be the area between the centerfield bleachers and the left-field seats."
(Bill McGraw/Detroit Free Press)
Tiger Stadium's demise assaults senses
Tiger Stadium walls are coming down
Tiger Stadium turning to dust
Tiger Stadium's outfield walls begin coming down
"At the urging of City Council, officials from the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy board and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation sat down for more than an hour to strike a deal after debating in council earlier Tuesday -- at times contentiously -- on what to do with the old stadium that has been partially torn down."
"...preservationists must create escrow accounts of $300,000 and $69,000 by Aug. 8, when the issue will be brought back to council.
The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, a preservation group, also must get complete funding for a museum in place by March 1, 2009, under the agreement. The amount needed is about $15.6 million.
The plan includes preserving the baseball diamond and 3,000 seats, and building a museum."
(Detroit Free Press)
Tentative deal saves part of Tiger Stadium
New plan hatched to save portion of Tiger Stadium
The chance that any piece of Tiger Stadium will be saved now seems to be gone. Ernie Harwell has cut ties with the group that is trying to save the old ballpark and is returning the donations that he has raised in connection with the project back to the original donors. The group has until Tuesday October 7, 2008 to come up with an initial $219,000 in order to save a portion of the stadium.
This isn't going to end well for preservationists...
"Tiger Stadium preservationists have until Tuesday to come up with a total of $219,000 to keep their effort to save a dugout-to-dugout portion of the stadium from demolition, a Detroit City Council committee decided today."
"But the effort suffered a major setback when S. Gary Spicer, the attorney for former Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, whose foundation has raised $500,000 toward the project, said that the foundation is returning the money to donors because its proposal to limit the project to a museum for Harwell’s memorabilia and the playfield was taken off the table."
See the entire article here
The Detroit News quotes Tiger Stadium Conservancy vice president Thom Linn as saying "'We will be successful,"' at a downtown Detroit press conference. He went on to state "This will be a catalyst for Corktown development.'"
As for now, the Tiger Stadium Conservancy is proving my prediction that it will not be able to save a portion of the old ballpark wrong.
"The group working to save part of the stadium raised $219,000 and signed a city agreement that allows members to continue with their estimated $12 million to $15 million plan to renovate the site as a recreational and educational complex."
Still, the conservancy's task is far from complete and plans for Tiger Stadium now become much more detailed and even more expensive.
"By Dec. 1, the conservancy must show it has a detailed plan that, among other things, shows how the group will raise the rest of the funding and how it will construct the project. Members have until March 1 to raise the money. If things go as planned, construction could begin next summer and be completed within 18 months.
The conservancy has said that it has already identified up to $7.5 million in tax credits and has money earmarked for the project by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, in the next federal budget."
Find more information from the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press
Apparently the race to save Tiger Stadium is neverending. At this point, I don't have any clue as to what deadlines are for. Hell, deadlines have come and gone, some of them have been met, some have not, and yet, the Tiger Stadium Conservancy lives another day.
The Free Press reports today that the Economic Development Corp. granted approval to the project’s budget and plan in a letter dated Friday to Thomas Linn, president of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy.
I could have sworn that in December it was reported that the Conservancy planned a $16 million renovation, but apparently that figure has almost doubled. The conservancy now faces a March 1 deadline to show it can provide an estimated $27 million to pay for the project.
Not really the best economy for raising $27 million dollars, but you gotta give the Conservancy credit for trying...
I'm sure on March 1 I'll have five more meaningless deadlines to keep you updated on. Until then you can check out the conservancy's plans at Save Tiger Stadium
Ok, so March 1 has passed, and as usual, I still don't know what will become of Tiger Stadium. I do know this,
"President Barack Obama
Detroit Free Press
The conservancy still has to raise the remainder of the $27 million...