Detroit Ballpark Review
This was my second trip to Comerica Park and my third trip to Detroit for baseball. We had some extra time so I was able to do a walk around of old Tiger Stadium as well.
Tiger Stadium is a very unassuming structure and you wouldn’t know it is a ballpark except for the light towers and the Tiger logos. The last game played there was in 1999 and the outside is in a state of disrepair. Chipped paint, broken and faded signs, rusted light standards show that there has been little care for the park. The urban renewal of Detroit has not reached ‘The Corner’ as of yet so Tiger Stadium stands in a sort of ballpark purgatory. The empty lots, potholed streets, borded up houses and deserted streets were the same as I remember when I saw a game there in 1999. I didn’t try to make my way into to the park. It is completely enclosed and one is unable to see inside at all. I am sure there is a way that one could sneak in to see what the disrepair is like on the inside and just enjoy the environs of a truly classic ballpark. Tiger Stadium was very bareboned and functional, very little razzle dazzle or ornamentation. The plaque at the corner of Michigan and Turnbull was gone as was the plaque dedicated to the greatest Tiger; Ty Cobb.
The park is owned by the city of Detroit as I understand and the upkeep or demolition would be more expensive than what they do to it now. I am undecided if a park should sit in limbo as Tiger Stadium is now or if it should be used or demolished. I personally am a proponent of the preservation of North American urban/industrial centres. These cities and their decay are as historically significant as the ruins of Rome, Greece or Egypt. For more on Detroit check out this great website http://detroityes.com/home.htm. May Tiger Stadium sit forever in it’s spledid bliss of monumental silence.
After our walk around of Tiger Stadium we headed downtown towards Woodward Ave and the Grand Circus. Detroit is a city in transition and some of the things I will comment on here I am sure will be resolved in the coming decades. However, today, there is hardly any public transport in the city. There is no vibrancy in the city either. There seems to be culural things to do in the downtown such as Opera, Art Gallery, The Fox The State and The City Theatres, Joe Louis Arena, Ford Field and Comerica Park all would draw thousands downtown there is nothing else to do. There are Casino’s in the city core but I noticed only Chris Chelios’ sports bar in the neighbourhood where Comerica and Ford Field stand. Chelis’ is ok but it is a hockey bar. The ‘Baseball Neighbourhood’ which is as much a draw at Wrigley and Fenway as the game does not exist in Detroit. There seemed to be no before or after party. Even the surrounding blocks seemed deserted. Other cities where I have seen games, Toronto, New York, Montreal, St. Louis, Boston and many Minor Leauge Parks usually have restaurants/bars in the immediatley vincinity surrounding the stadium (except at Shea).
So with few distractions around the park the team and the Stadium must be the main draw. As for Comerica, it is an attractive park. It’s golden brick, wrought iron gates, ornamental tiger carvings are fanciful, attractive and suitable. The main entrace to the park in in centre field and as soon as you step into the park you get a panorama of the grandstand. The seats are all dark green and is complemented by the black painted steel works that make up the roof, lights standards, scoreboard and other supports. There is very little concrete that can be seen. The city is very prevalent from inside the park, the backdrop of old skyscrapers and Ford Field loom over the limits of Comerica. The outfield at Comerica is massive and when walking around the park you notice how far away the bleachers are. The outfield has some nice distractions as well. The bullpens have been moved from rightfield to left field and the fences have been brought in since I was here in 2002. I remember seeing a 395′ power alley in 2002. I could not find a marker on the fence now but I assume it has been brought in about 20′. The brickwork and iron work are clear to see in the outfield and the statues of Tiger greats are in deep left centre and look over the field. I spoke with one old fellow who says he comes to about 20 games a year and leans against the base of the Ty Cobb statue. He says “It’s like I am watching the game with the Peach himself.” So money.
It was early afternoon game and cold and since there was little if anything to choose from outside the park (there were not even hotdog vendors on the streets, some popcorn) I wanted bacon and eggs at the park but I knew that was farfetched but I thought that there might be more to choose from than hot dogs or pizza. I had a keilbasa on a bun which was tasty but too small to pay $5 for. I looked for variety and all I saw was the normal ball park fare hot dogs, pizza, nachos, pretzels and you could buy these EVERYWHERE. There are picnic areas where you can sit down and eat which is a nice touch but the variety is terrible. Another nice touch is the Montgomery Inn that is situated above the bleachers. I walked around the park for the 5th and 6th and went up for a pulled pork sandy but you were unable to watch the game from the restaurant even though there was a picnic area outside. Again, I may be biased that the wind was so cold that I couldn’t enjoy myself on the ‘Pepsi Porch’.
There is a massive scoreboard in left field and it does have a replay board but it was hardly ever used for anything other than a picture of who is at bat. The scoreboard info was questionable at best. I love the stat “Troy Glaus career with bases empy BA .250 HR 147 RBI 147” Redundant, Yes. Entertaining yes, because of its obviousness. Myself and I am sure others are more interested in personal facts, where he was born, went to college than how many career solo home runs he has hit.
The Tiger fans were good, knowledgable but not braggarts, laid back but tuned in. The best kind of fan! The Tiger team is a likeable team with sparkplug Curtis Granderson a fan favourite and a solid young pitching staff. This is truly Detroit’s team as alot of the players are hold overs from that terrible team that lost 119 games a few years back.
Anyways, that is the lowdown on Comerica Park. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience because there was an exciting game on the go. Hopefully the downtown core will spruce up the life around the park and the park services will improve their menus (at least get a real sausage-on-a-bun in the works).
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