Taking over from a legend is never easy. As the successor to Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park does it with style.
The Tigers Make the Move
The move almost didn’t happen. Fans of Tiger Stadium, which is located at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan Avenues, spent years trying to prevent it. Although they eventually lost the fight, they were successful in delaying the move for 11 years. Of course, they had history on their side; the corner where the stadium is located hosted baseball games since the 19th century. There was also a deep and abiding love for the stadium itself, which had affordable seats and an upper deck that was very close to the action.
In the late 1990s, Detroit’s revitalization efforts finally trumped Tiger Stadium’s historical appeal and cheap seats; the move would be made. Designed by HOK Sport of Kansas City and SHG Inc. of Detroit, the new ballpark was located two miles north of the old stadium and was financed through both public and private donations. Its final cost was in the neighborhood of $300 million. Although Tiger owner Mike Ilitch contributed a lion’s share of the funds, the stadium is actually owned by the Detroit-Wayne County Stadium Authority.
Comerica Park is pleasing in many ways. In addition to the view, accomplished by setting the stadium at an angle to its surrounding streets, it has asymmetrical dimensions, a sunken playing field, a brick exterior and one of the largest scoreboards around. While taking up more actual acreage than its predecessor, Comerica actually has 12,000 fewer seats.
Home Run Challenged
The first opening game was played at Comerica on April 11th, 2000. During its first few years playing host to the Tigers, the stadium was criticized as a difficult park for home runs because of its expansive outfield. Ever vigilant to keep the fans happy and the park interesting, the powers that be corrected the stadium’s dimensions in 2003, at least partially, by moving in the left field wall. There is also talk of adding a retractable roof.
So far Comerica Park has been a success, both as a ballpark, serving as host to the 2005 All-Star Game, and as a venue for concerts, including Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band, The Rolling Stones and The Dave Matthews Band. Of course, the success of the Tigers has helped.