The Scorecard

While there’s plenty of nostalgia for bringing competitive baseball back to the historic Tiger Stadium site, the numbers don’t add up.


Published:

 Nostalgia in the sporting world is a funny thing. Sports businesses are built on it — we proudly wear jackets, jerseys, and hats from teams long gone. Yet despite our yearnings for yesteryear, no one has figured out what to do with our beloved, but aging, stadiums.

While our professional sports teams have a combined history of being active over three centuries, does anyone recall where the Tigers played their inaugural season in 1894? Answer: Boulevard Park, near Belle Isle (roughly at East Lafayette and East Grand Boulevard). If new revenue had sustained Boulevard Park, we’d be attending minor league and youth games there today.

Cobo Arena, once home to the Detroit Pistons, long since disappeared as a viable sports venue and today is being transformed into a conference and banquet center as part of a larger renovation of Cobo Center.

Olympia Stadium, demolished in 1987, succumbed to old age and a provision in the Red Wings’ lease that prevented the venue from competing with city-owned Joe Louis and Cobo arenas. The Wings also stipulated that the city couldn’t sell Olympia to a competitor.

Down the road, a new use for Joe Louis Arena may be considered (perhaps as an expansion of Cobo Center). The Red Wings are weighing whether to build a stadium in an area bounded by I-75, Woodward, Temple, and Grand River. If the deal is consummated, parking will be a key component in completing the transaction. The Palace of Auburn Hills can offer major recording acts competitive contracts because it drives plenty of revenue from parking and concessions sales — Olympia Entertainment will surely want to take advantage of similar opportunities; Joe Louis Arena, due to its position along the Detroit River, does not have that luxury.

While there’s plenty of nostalgia for bringing competitive baseball back to the historic Tiger Stadium site, the numbers don’t add up. The Tigers left the city-owned complex 12 years ago. Since that time, the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has raised $150,000. It was far short of covering a $15.5 million plan to preserve a portion of the stadium while operating a museum and a ballpark.

So what happens next to the Tiger Stadium site? Until an entity meets Detroit Economic Growth Corp.’s (DEGC) mixed-use development goal of “highest and best use,” the 9.5-acre parcel at Michigan and Trumbull will remain as is. But baseball nostalgia isn’t completely dead; dreams for the future are alive and well — even more so now that DEGC, Detroit’s Recreation Department, Think Detroit PAL (Police Athletic League), and Chevrolet are restoring Jayne Field, a complex of 11 baseball diamonds near McNichols and Conant on the city’s east side.

Think Detroit PAL, which serves 1,400 youth and sponsors nearly 100 teams each year, operates baseball fields in other parts of the city, as well. “Chevrolet’s support is a grand slam for Think Detroit PAL and our youth,” says George Jackson, DEGC’s president and CEO. “If that money had been poured into the Tiger Stadium site, you’d be looking at one ball field instead of 11 ball fields. If  businesses, nonprofits, and individuals would like to support youth baseball in Detroit, we encourage them to embrace existing parks and recreation facilities. It offers the biggest bang for the buck.” db

R.J. King

rjking@dbusiness.com 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

The Last Mile

Public transportation in metro Detroit hasn't been much to write home about. Without a car, it's tough to find reliable, affordable transportation to shop, work, and play.

Somerset Detroit

Soon, downtown Detroit will have its own version of The Somerset Collection in Troy.

Inside Out

As a director at the Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Mike Stafford says the 319-acre art and educational campus isn’t limited by its physical boundaries.

By the Numbers

The advent of the auto-mobile, along with public transportation, gave birth to shopping malls in the 1950s, and proponents predicted they would never go out of style.

Make Great Plans

Wayne County is seeks an ultimate solution for a judicial campus in Detroit.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Royal Oak's Café Muse Owner to Open Restaurant in Detroit's West Village
    The owner and chef of Café Muse in Royal Oak has plans to open Geiger Eat Shop, a restaurant and...
  2. $60,000 in Scholarships to be awarded at Metro Detroit Youth Day
  3. Return of Fortune
    A Detroit app developer mines repeat business from a steady stream of mobile upgrades
  4. Dow Chemical, Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s $20B Industrial Complex Set to Open in 2016
    A $20 billion joint venture between Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and the Saudi Arabian Oil Co.,...
  5. Ford Fund, Lear Corp. Help Establish WSU Student Finance Lab
  6. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market to Open 3 Stores Across Metro Detroit
    Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a grocery store chain that features organic and natural foods, will...