For nearly 20 years, Detroit’s Tiger Stadium has been the focus of a local and nationwide effort to preserve an icon of baseball and a major national historic landmark. As one of the last remaining historic ballparks, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the stadium on the list of 11 Most Endangered Places in America in 1991. Although partial demolition of the stadium took place last year, the remaining portion of the ballpark was slated for redevelopment that would preserve historic elements of the stadium as retail, office and community space, as well as the playing field itself and the lower deck seating as a venue for youth baseball.
This vision was lost on Tuesday, June 2nd when the economic development arm of the city voted to follow through with complete demolition of Tiger Stadium. Demolition equipment was on site the following day, despite protests from preservationists, baseball enthusiasts and local activists. Demolition may take place as early as June 8th. Complete demolition at this time will result only in another empty parcel in a city filled with vacant land awaiting new construction since no alternative plan for the site with any real viability currently exists.
Under a redevelopment proposal negotiated with the City last year, the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had agreed to meet a specific cash fundraising goal as part of the redevelopment plan for the stadium which they subsequently failed to do thereby giving the City claim to demolish the remainder of the Stadium. However, the Conservancy did make good progress in raising funds despite the bad economy and recession and, though technically in default, accomplished enough to feel they would be given the benefit of the doubt in perhaps seeking an extension of the deadline to raise the remaining funds. In addition, since the City has no prospects of a developer or any other use of the site, it seems all the more tragic that a hasty demolition would be scheduled.
The National Trust has responded with a grassroots campaign to contact Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and members of the City Council to oppose this plan that would short circuit redevelopment of this iconic historic landmark which could transform it back into a thriving center of community activity.
For more information go to http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/midwest-region/tiger-stadium.html
Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust