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City of Detroit says no to people who want to do cool thing for kids

Sep 15, 2011, 6:00 PM EDT

tiger stadium

Manipulative headline? Involving something to which I have an emotional connection? Moi?  Why, I never.  But decide for yourself:

Chevrolet employees have volunteered to maintain the old Tiger Stadium playing field for use by youth baseball teams, but the offer was spurned by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., where officials want to keep the property open for a future big-box retailer.

As we’ve noted before, people have flocked to the lot that once held Tiger Stadium and have, on the sly, tried their best to maintain the playing field, which is still able to be made out following the ballpark’s demolition. People mow the grass. Play pickup games there. Take pictures. Reminisce.

The development commission which owns the property, however, has tried to keep people off.  Which is understandable from a property rights perspective.  But now they’re thwarting cool ideas too.

As the linked article notes, there is hope that the land can be developed by big box retailers. I suppose any economic development in Detroit would be a good thing. But the best thing? The nicest thing?  The thing that might actually bring joy to people in a way that some retailer selling plastic crap can’t?

Well, I won’t answer that. I’d hate to stack the deck in this argument!

  1. robertterwilliger - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    breaking: property owners want to use property as they see fit. more at 11.

    • cur68 - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:29 PM

      And yet robert, on this very site was a raging, acrimonious debate by the commenters, American and foreign alike, about investing in American baseball. 116 comments long it was (“So when will all of the European baseball players arrive?”). Clearly there exists feeling, quite strong ones in fact, that keeping the field as it is and using it for baseball is a worthy venture. Does America need another big box chain location? Arguable. Does America need the baseball playing space? Equally arguable. Hence, the post is quite relevant. As a foreigner myself, I don’t have any say about what Detroit does with old Tiger Stadium’s lot. I certainly wont visit that city for a box chain. Other’s though, American others, might and evidently do care. Quite a bit. When more comes on at 11 some of those commenters might be interested in it, so post a time and network with that info.

      • ThatGuy - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM

        Canada isn’t foreign, its like the 51st state. Probably more like 48 states than Alaskans.

      • cur68 - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        Gettin all uppity, eh? 51st state is it? Huh. Do we have to sack your nation’s capital again? This time we cart off any likely lookin’ females we fancy, so keep that border in mind, real careful-like.

      • robertterwilliger - Sep 15, 2011 at 8:08 PM

        you said a lot there without saying much.

        it’d be like me owning my house and some people want to turn it into a historical indian remembrance site. it’s my property, i’ll do what i want with it. fuck off.

        it’s great that people are trying to save the remains of tiger stadium. but to act like the owners of the property are doing a disservice to anyone is silly. it’s their property. they want to sell it for a lot of money and don’t care what goes in there. horrible for the community? probably. but that’s their decision.

      • cur68 - Sep 15, 2011 at 8:46 PM

        Ah robbie, there you are. No one is disputing the right of the owners to do what they want, just that we think a better use could be found for that land.

        The point in my reply is that people do care. Sorry, should have dumbed that down for you. Hence the post is relevant, which I believe was the thrust of your eloquently worded initial post. The post was a kind of broader appeal, sentimental if you like, for better use of the land. A sort of appeal to the good nature of humanity and all things decent and baseball related, get me? Your comment was a dismissal of the relevance of the entire post, see?

        If I’ve misinterpreted that then you are going to have to a better job of getting you meaning out there but I take it from your follow up, and equally eloquent rebuttal, that you still see no reason for the original post. Pity, that.

      • pitperc - Sep 15, 2011 at 8:51 PM

        @robert Those are all good, but completely irrelevant points. The site isn’t owned by an individual or a private corporation. It’s owned by the City of Detroit, who has hired DEGC to help manage the site. They city government would prefer to use the site for “economic development”, many citizens would prefer otherwise. It’s not as cut and dried as your house / burial ground analogy.

      • robertterwilliger - Sep 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

        @cur68. wow thanks for being a condescending dick to someone who dares disagree with you.

        @pitperc thanks for being a decent person. while my analogy may be off a tad, it still holds. people want to do something with property that’s not theirs. if the city owns the property, it’s their decision to make. that’s my point. a wordy reply really isn’t needed.

      • cur68 - Sep 15, 2011 at 9:48 PM

        @bobby; hey, no problem, anytime. Thanks for swearing at me. Cheers.

    • The Rabbit - Sep 15, 2011 at 10:23 PM

      if the city owns the property, it’s their decision to make.
      Absolutely, Robert; however, as former elected city official I always thought that the “city” was the residents of that city…Not just a physical location and certainly not some individuals or corporation who stood to gain economically while disadvantaging the others who resided in the city.
      This is very different from your analogy.
      Craig did not address whether or not the citizens of Detroit want to preserve the stadium. The denial came from a bunch of bureaucrats. These are the same people who recommend zoning laws that tell you what you can and cannot do on your own real estate and look at eminent domain for seizing personal property for public projects…. you know, people who no one elected to represent them.
      Given your stated respect for personal property rights and given that City property belongs to all of the people who live in the City, I’d think you’d want to know what the majority of residents want before you cast your vote here.

  2. saturn1111 - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    America certainly doesn’t need another big box chain, least of all on a sacred site like the old tiger stadium (no sarcasm).

    However, the site’s past status as the home of a venerable shrine to our beloved national pastime holds no truck in the present if the present owners don’t want to honor that past. It’s unfortunate that they don’t care.

    And I don’t think the statement “but your honor, now they’re blocking *cool ideas* from happening on the site, too!” would hold up in court.

  3. presidentmiraflores - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    There are still Chevrolet employees in Detroit?

  4. yankeesgameday - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Let’s also not forget they shot a rather poignant scene of HBO’S Hung at home plate in the middle if a fueld that used to be Tiger Stadium. It was all very metaphorical about how we all age and sometimes become irrelevant.

    Hung and Bored to Death; two great half hours with lots of baseball themes and allegories.

  5. joeflaccosunibrow - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    You mean to tell me that they have no other large lots to build on? You see blocks and blocks of boarded up homes. Use imenent domain law and take back some crap holes and build there.

    Truthfully, no retailer is building a new store in a dying city/state.

  6. motorcitykitty80 - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Crap like this from our city government makes me embarrassed to be a Metro Detroiter. This is once again a failure and black eye on the city of Detroit. I was part of the movement and fundraising to save Tiger Stadium. No matter how much money was raised, grants issued and supporters there were, the city was going to veto ANY and ALL proposals for that site. We had a fabulous LLC – Michigan and Trumbull – that offered to take over and pay for all upkeep on the building, freeing up needed money for the city and they STILL said no. That lot will never be used for anything… no big box stores, no baseball field, no housing, nothing.

    There is a fabulous documentary that you can purchase about the struggle and fight to save The Corner. It beautifully details the city’s ineptitude, their failures and demonstrates how The Corner was just a pawn in the city’s power struggle. It is called “Stranded at the Corner”.

    Tiger fans have had many reasons to be outraged with the city and their decisions in the past – this is just another chapter in the long, sad and sorry tale of Detroit and The Corner.

  7. gabrielthursday - Sep 15, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Yeah, this is pretty dumb. Are they planning on building right now? Having people use the baseball field until and unless development occurs is a no-brainer, especially for a public entity.

  8. saturn1111 - Sep 15, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Look…I’m all for doing something to preserve the memory of the park, but I gotta say something that’s bound unpopular w/ the sanctity-of-the-game faction of commenters who think the city is somehow morally bankrupt for not wanting to honor baseball’s past: we may not agree with their handling of the site, they’re allowed to serve their own interests. It doesn’t matter how high up on your moral high horse you are, or how misty eyed you get about our national pastime. That’s the way it is. I can’t imagine football fans ever being this holier than thou about a stadium, except in green bay.

  9. paperlions - Sep 15, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Since when is a big box store “economic development”? The jobs it creates are dead end, low paying crap, and the “profits” from such ventures all leave town (as they are not locally owned businesses). Selling people cheap, poorly made stuff is not and has never been “economic development”.

  10. bigleagues - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    HEEELLLLLLLOOOOO . . . calling Dick’s, Modell’s and/or any corporate marketing exec’s – GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY for endless positive publicity staring you in the face!

    Buy the lot, field and all. Build your store and others AROUND the field. Set up a public trust with provisions that preserve suitable public use indefinitely. Have youth & HS baseball scheduled there everyday possible. Football and soccer during Fall and Winter.

    In some ways this is a no-brainer – but I also lack faith that corporate types could ever be that creative.

    • heynerdlinger - Sep 16, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      Corporate types might not be that creative, but you can bet that the marketing types have already considered and rejected these kinds of ideas for the corner at Michigan and Trumbull.

      As other posters have pointed out, there’s no lack of buildable land in Detroit. No one has built a box store at Michigan and Trumbull for the same reason they’re not building elsewhere in Detroit. It’s not a good location for a business.

      Endless positive publicity is all well and good, but if they don’t make money on that space, they’re not going to build there.

      • bigleagues - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

        Fair enough. All I know of Detroit is what I’ve learned from Michael Moore and Axel Foley (ok, maybe i know a little more than that).

        I have no idea what the viability of the area is. However, there is a difference between the corporate paid marketer and an entrepreneurial marketer. The latter is willing to do what others say can’t be done, while the former doesn’t want to put their 6-figure or better income at risk by even suggesting such a thing.

  11. simplicitymadecomplex - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Regarding bigleagues comment: Your HBT name-tag rings true WRT this topic. Unfortunately “the-better-than-any-single-human-bean/group-of-human-beans” corporate entity [any fuckin’ corporate entity – including almost every level of almost every town, county, region, city, state, province, nation in our universe {yes “they” are CORPORATIONS} is able to do anything “they” fuckin’ please both legally and illegally] will never, and I use “never” knowing just how lengthy “never” is, do anything that even smells of “a sense of community” [maybe this is ;cause every corporation BELIEVES itself to be the COMMUNITY].

    You’re right b/l a corp. like MASON’S should buy Tiger Stadium [and as much land around it as is possible] outright and then build any number of “business/entertainment” outlets [something akin to Camden Yards only instead of incorporating the old, go with the new] that would completely surround “old Tiger Stadium”. There is enough unused land all around the stade coupled with lowering the sitting capacity [for safety reason alone plus the added feature of providing more “retail avenues”] to make this venture a win-win-win [for the owners, for Detwat, and especially for the citizens].

    So, in a world going completely with THE STUPID, what are the odds ?

  12. Paul Bourdett - Sep 16, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    I’m pretty sure Detroit needs a huge big box store more than they need a baseball field. That’s a LOT of jobs, a lot of taxes the city can collect. I’m sure there are other parks around the city where people can gather and play baseball. I know it’s sentimental and all because it’s the old Tiger Stadium but something tells me the economy in Detroit is just a little more important.

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