Tiger Stadium Must Go, But The Fight Wasn't Really Fair
They built a light guard armory at the corner of Grand River and McGraw, also known as the intersection on which Olympia Stadium stood.
Fine by me.
I was sad to see Olympia become victim of the wrecking ball, but it wasn't being used anymore. As much as I thrilled to watch hockey in that Red Barn, it had outlived its usefulness.
It's gone, but not my mental image of the stadium, from the steep, narrow escalators to the sight lines to the balcony. I can still see Pete Mahovlich tossing pucks up to the kids in the balcony before games.
No one appreciates baseball history like I do. I revel in the stories, the anecdotes, the old, flannel uniforms. I wish the Tigers would go back to their plain, staid road outfits from the 1960s, to show you.
The ones with "DETROIT" in simple, blue block letters against a grey primary color.
The road uniform of the 1968 World Series team.
I'm another who has wonderful, vivid memories of Tiger Stadium.
I can recall some details of my first game attended there--on July 9, 1971 against the Yankees--like it was yesterday.
Took me awhile to cozy up to Comerica Park, and its surrounding area, which doesn't have near the character that Tiger Stadium's Bricktown possesses. In fact, I don't think I'll ever truly embrace CoPa's Fox Theater district environs.
But a new stadium, they said, was needed, so again, fine by me.
Also fine if they yank what remains of Tiger Stadium to the ground.
Do it forthwith, in fact.
This Band-Aid that is being torn painfully slowly from the faces of the folks who adore the stadium's remains so much as to pull a Tiananmen Square and throw themselves in front of the tractors and demolition equipment, must be removed, and removed right now.
I know this places me in an unpopular, almost hated group of people.
The good folks of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy are fighting the good fight, but it's misplaced energy.
Other cities have knocked down their old ballparks, their old baseball cathedrals, and they seem none the worse for wear.
I've said it before. Why should Tiger Stadium's fate be any different than that of Ebbets Field or the Polo Grounds or Shibe Park or Crosley Field or old Comiskey Park?
I know the conservancy folks believe that something useful, something that's not an eyesore, can be salvaged from what's left of Tiger Stadium. There's been a boatload of money cobbled together toward that end.
They wonder why the plug must be pulled now, when they've come this far, and raised this amount of cash.
It's not a pittance, I will grant you.
So perhaps that's the gist of the protestations.
"We've come this far! What's a few more months?"
Point well taken.
Had demolition been done in one fell swoop, we wouldn't be where we are now--which is a very ugly situation indeed.
Instead, some of the grandstand was left standing, and the conservancy people were to try to make something of it.
A museum, perhaps.
A sandlot ball field.
Or shops. Or anything that might drive some traffic and revenue toward the venue.
I'd be willing to go along with the desire to have more time, but I don't know if the conservancy people can talk sense into the folks within city government.
As much as I believe that what remains of Tiger Stadium should be razed, I also admire the efforts of the conservancy movement, and they seem to be playing by the rules laid out for them.
The inner workings of City Hall, though, appear to be moving along a crooked path.
Communication and requests for meetings have ceased and been ignored, even those made by the office of U.S. Senator Carl Levin, who has earmarked $3.8 million in federal funds for a stadium redevelopment project.
That seems odd to me.
But regardless, demolition could move forward as soon as tonight, despite the protests.
This pains me to say, because I count some of those who are pushing for conservancy among my friends.
Move on with your lives. Please.
Keep those memories vivid, and toast to yourselves on a good battle. But it's a losing one, and not of your own doing.
You're playing poker against the house, with a deck of marked cards that they brought to the table with them.
Tiger Stadium, as corny as this sounds, lives in each one of us who enjoyed baseball games there as a child and as a parent, or just plain adult.
And it always will.
They can knock it down with their sliding rules, but that's just the shell.
The soul and spirit, they can never destroy.