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Giving Tiger Stadium some love too

Apr 23, 2012, 9:15 AM EDT

tiger stadium

Everyone went all out for Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary on Friday. But if there was any justice in the world there would have been two grand old parks celebrating their centennials. Because Tiger Stadium would have turned 100 that day too.

Yes, I realize that I am nearly 15 years too late to cry about this, but I still cry. Tiger Stadium was where I discovered baseball, dammit, and where I fell in love with it. And I realize that my case is unique in that, because of a connected relative, I always had decent seats and didn’t have to deal with obstructed views and overhangs. I’m also totally aware of how the time and place in which Tiger Stadium fell into disrepair made it impossible that it would ever get a Fenway-style rehab done. The ship sailed, I realize. It sailed long ago. And everyone tells me that Comerica Park is nice (I’m going there for the first time this summer).

Still, I’m a little agitated to know that, as Fenway stood festooned with banners and flags and bore witness to legends of the past walking on that field on Friday afternoon, the place where Tiger Stadium used to be stood empty and mostly neglected and, one day, will be nearly forgotten.

Chris Jaffe wrote a nice piece about Tiger Stadium this morning over at The Hardball Times. Give it a read and then pour one out for the great old place that used to stand at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

  1. mgv38 - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    I live in metro Detroit, and have been to both ballparks. I prefer Tiger Stadium (I like a ballpark, not an amusement park). And although its demise was fairly inevigtalbe, I wish there were something more tangible at the site to memoiralize the old park.

    • cmutimmah - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      I know it wasn’t met with much (if any) fanfare, but I live in metro Detroit also and there were people all morning/afternoon stopping by Michigan and Trumbull to say happy 100th.

      It’s not just you that miss that old friend, Craig. CoPa is wonderful even with the pomp and circumstance. I have no complaints, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss the old stadium.

  2. Tim OShenko - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Never been there, but I always loved it when they televised games from old Tiger Stadium. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest ballpark – cooler than Fenway, even. Sure, there were giant iron posts obstructing everyones’ view, but in my mind that just added to the charm.

  3. hasbeen5 - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Saw a game there when I was about 15 (against Boston coincidentally), it was a cool place. It was not a great venue anymore, but the history and nostalgia made up for it.

  4. mybrunoblog - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Couple of points here friends.
    1. It is never too late to weep over an old friends death. Missing old TIger stadium is fine Craig.
    2. In looking at the 2 ballparks one primary reason that Fenway survived and TIger Stadium did not has an awful lot to do with the city not just the ballpark. Unfortunatly, over the past 50 years Detroit has devolved into a poverty stricken city that is a case study in urban decay. Yes that’s harsh but the truth hurts. On the other hand Boston has remained vital and alive.
    3. Criag is wrong. TIger stadium will live forever in the memories of those who played games there, watched games there and even for those too young but wished that had visited the old ballpark.
    4. Last point. I am a Yankees fan. The Yanks and the City tore down my ballpark too. I feel you’re pain bro. Yeah yeah, I know we have a new stadium across the street but it isn’t the same. I still miss the old Yankee Stadium a lot.

  5. nolanwiffle - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I always wanted to watch a game from the front row in the upper deck in right……never got to do it. Damn.

    • crashdavis99 - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      My favorite seats in the place, used to sit there at least 2 games a year. Loved baseball at the corner.

  6. crashdavis99 - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Craig, if you loved Tiger Stadium as much as you say prepare yourself for a big disappointment at Comerica. It is the opposite of Tiger Stadium in every way possible. Way too big, cold, sterile, cheap and guady. I go because I love baseball and the Tigers but I hate everything about Comerica.

    • dondada10 - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:41 PM

      I’ve never been to Tiger’s Stadium but I’ve been to Comerica and love it. I’ve been to a fair amount of stadium in my life (Shea, Citi, Yankee 1, Yankee 2, Fenway, Wrigley, Skydome, Olympic Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, RFK, The Vet, Citizens Bank, and PNC).

      The 3 oldies are in a different category, and Comerica is second to only PNC.

      PNC is the best stadium in the game.

    • kalinedrive - Apr 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      I’ve been to both, and if you hate everything about Comerica Park you are an idiot. Sorry, I know it’s trite and juvenile to call people an idiot on the Internet, but that is a really bad attitude to have about a really nice ballpark. You can’t even enjoy a walk around the concourse, the statues in left field, the fact that you can see the field while you’re walking around? Yeah, hating everything about the new park qualifies as an idiotic opinion.

      • crashdavis99 - Apr 24, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        So sorry but last time I checked this was America and it’s my right to hate everything about Comerica if I wish. If you like it, more power to you. I certainley don’t consider you an idiot, that’s your right. Just stating the facts from my point of view. Ok, I’ll back off and give you one thing : the statues are nice but they could have been added to a re-furbished Tiger Stadium (and would have meant more because the players actually played there). Just so you understand what I am saying, it’s not the fact that it’s not Tiger Stadium I don’t like. See my post below for my reasons for preferring the old ballpark.

  7. gordiehowehattrick9 - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I miss the ol’ ballpark more and more as I get older. As much as I do like the CoPa, it just isn’t the same.

  8. brianbowman16 - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    I never got to go Tiger Stadium, and it’s a huge let down for me. But to the people saying that Comerica is lame, i say hardly. Everywhere you look, there is some sort of reference to the great and storied tradition of our beloved ballclub. The amusement park line was, well, amusing too. A single carousel and a ferris wheel constitute an entire amusement park? Come on man, dial back the bitter a tad. My first game was also my sons, and i will never forget the huge gasp of awe coming from my at the time 3 year old when we walked in and saw that beautiful ballpark. Comerica is a special place if you allow it to be, Craig

  9. yankeesfanlen - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Chintzy little sign “Ernie Harwell Ballpark” probably put up by a fan. And on a related note, Ernie’s memoribilia still sitting unattended in the basement of the Detroit Public Library. The baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t seem very interested, at least they don’t respond to me.

  10. Detroit Michael - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    I attend about 2-6 Tiger games each year. I definitely prefer Comerica Park over Tiger Stadium. There are no obstructed view seats in Comerica that I have found but it seemed like a third of the time in Tiger Stadium there was a post or the outfield chain link fence in the way. I sure don’t mess the smelly urinal troughs in Tiger Stadium or the limited food choices. I liked the old park but the new one is much better. The historical/nostalgic displays and the Tigers with baseballs in their mouths are nice. I only sat in the right field overhang seats once in Tiger Stadium because those were season ticket holders’ seats, not general admission seats. I went on a clubhouse tour of Tiger Stadium once and the player facilities were dilapitated, probably hurting the team’s ability to attract free agents.

    The worst changes with Comerica Park in my opinion are (1) higher ticket & food prices (2) use of government tax revenue to build a sports stadium and (3) lots more corporate advertising everywhere that detracts from the atmosphere. However, those changes were likely inevitable given that have happened nearly everywhere.

    I realize that my preference for Comerica Park is considered almost sacreligious amongst Tiger fans, but I really think those who cherish Tiger Stadium have rather rose-colored memories. The place was a lot more of a dump than Fenway, even if it was our dump.

  11. normcash - Apr 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    I think that the reason Tiger Stadium was replaced has nothing to do with the economic woes of inner-city Detroit. In fact, logic dictates that those problems would have prevented construction
    of a new park. The reason Comerica was built was the willingness of Mike Ilitch to bankroll
    most of the construction personally—the public funds used were a small part of the cost. If the Red
    Sox had lost as many games in the late-80s and 90s as the Tigers did, I bet it would be gone too.
    I’ve been to Fenway and it’s a dump. Like Tiger Stadium, there are a few good seats with
    sightlines that are great and many, many more seats with awful sightlines.

  12. crashdavis99 - Apr 23, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I don’t find your preference for Comerica sacreligious, that’s your choice. Here are my thoughts on why I prefer Tiger Stadium. First, no doubt the place was a dump in the 90’s. Problem is, it didn’t have to be. The ballpark sure looks fine in the old video highlights from 84 World Series doesn’t it? I don’t remember anyone complaining about the place in 68, 84 and 87. What so many people forget around here is the place fell into disrepair because Mike Illitch refused to spend any money on upkeep because he wanted his new ballpark. Like the spoiled five year old he is, he simply went into the corner and held his breath until he got what he wanted. Totally ignoring the ballpark, his team and the fan base for almost ten years. Second, I go to a ballgame for just that : the game. I don’t need or want a carousel, a ferris wheel and food court that looks like it belongs in a shopping mall. A hot dog, brat, popcorn, pretzels and some nachos will do just fine thank you. Third, I am now paying twice as much money for food, drinks, souvenirs and tickets for the privilege of sitting twice as far from the playing field as before. At old Tiger Stadium the only place you were really far from the action was the bleachers in Center field and at least they only cost a couple of dollars. Some of the seats in Comerica in the Upper Deck down the right field and left field lines are practically in the next county.Lastly, and the thing that bothers me the most is there is nothing reminiscent at all about the old stadium in Comerica. No, I did not expect them to build a replica of Tiger Stadium but given the beautiful examples of old time ballpark architecture that were already in place at the time (Camden Yards, Ballpark at Arlington, Jacobs Field, etc..) Comerica Park is a total whiff job. Baseball in Detroit was all about the upper decks in the outfield, the enclosed cathedral like atmosphere, the intimacy between players and fans. It is almost as if Mike Illitch set out to be the exact opposite of Tiger Stadium and he certainley succeeded. The place is too wide open, sight lines from the seats are horrible and it just seems plastic and phony to me. Sorry, I’ll take the old smelly dump over your cheap plastic hollow mall any day.

    • normcash - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      I agree with your opinion of Comerica Park regarding sightlines, intimacy, etc. It’s as if
      they considered what made Tiger Stadium great and went the opposite way. But your criticism
      of Mike Ilitch was WAY off-base. He didn’t own Tiger Stadium, the city did. He was reluctant
      to spend big bucks on renovations for the same reason any apartment renter would be.
      In addition, there was simply no physical way to add luxury boxes to Tiger Stadium…and
      teams need that revenue stream to be financially competitive nowadays. But he did take on
      an enormous personal debt burden to finance Comerica Park. I, too, wish he’d made better
      design choices (AT&T Park in San Fransisco; Camden Yards, Target Field—any of those
      designs would have been great); but to paint his actions as selfish is wrong. Tiger Stadium was
      a physical dump in ’84 and ’68 too…I spent too many games sitting in seats where it was impossible to see a flyball because of the overhang or blocked off from part of the infield because of posts. I also saw games from the first tier of seats in the upper deck—an unparalled
      view. Unfortunately, there were too few seats like that.

  13. crashdavis99 - Apr 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Sorry, my criticism of Mike Ilitch is right on target. Please spare me the white knight, savior routine. Mike Ilitch is (to his credit) a shrewd, cunning businessman whose only loyalty is to his own bottom line. “Enormous personal debt burden”? Hardly. He built Comerica Park on land donated to him by the city of Detroit. He was responsible for 62% of cost true with the other 38% public taxpayer revenues. He did not cut a check for his part, he took out business loans which he quickly paid off with the help of the 66 million dollars paid by Comerica Bank for naming rights and the lucrative parking lot deals which he owns. That is quite different than Piston owner Bill Davidson who bought the land in Auburn Hills and paid entirely out of his pocket for the entire cost of the Palace. Mike Ilitch has never given a damn about the fans, only his legacy.

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