A sad day for Tiger fans

i-c98fed0a16da432e13e95adc32eb94ef-bilde.jpgAs I sit here marveling that, as of this writing, it’s almost the summer solstice and the Detroit Tigers still have the best record in baseball (with the New York Mets not far behind, yet!) I come across this depressing news. Tiger Stadium is going to be razed this fall:

It’s official.

After years of debate and false hopes, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has decided to raze Tiger Stadium, the historic but decaying home of Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and the 1984 World Series champion Tigers.

In its place, Kilpatrick envisions a ring of retail shops and residential housing surrounding the historic playing field, which will be preserved as a nonprofit park and ball diamond.

The mayor said his conceptual plan, revealed in detail to the Free Press on Thursday, is the best chance to boost the outlook for the Corktown neighborhood and to save and celebrate one of America’s most famous baseball fields.

“We joined in partnership with the Corktown community to take the necessary steps to move our city forward,” Kilpatrick said.

“The decision meets our goals of increasing economic development while maintaining the integrity of the neighborhood. The future of the Michigan and Trumbull site will honor and preserve the memory of Tiger Stadium.”

Scott Martin, executive director of the Greater Corktown Development Corp., a community-based housing development agency that brought the plan to the city last year, said the neighborhood badly needs a boost that new homes and retail stores can deliver.

“We see it as a huge economic development tool for our neighborhood and for the city as a whole,” he said.

Under the plan, the playing field would be used for Little League games, concerts and other community events. The dugouts and a few other parts of the stadium would be saved.

The plan envisions saving a small part of the stadium near the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

I grew up going to see the Tigers play at the old Tiger Stadium. It was unique in the way that the upper decks were so close to the playing field. But, as soon as Comerica Field started construction, I knew Tiger Stadium’s days were numbered. True, fans tried to think of ways to save the old building, but the numerous and varied plans they came up with to keep it around (turning it into condos or shopping, etc.) just didn’t sound practical or financially viable. In the end, they weren’t.

When I’m back in the Detroit area this August, I may have to take a drive down to the corner of Michigan and Trumbull to pay my last respects. I wonder if they’ll be giving tours.