Just when you thought the forthcoming goverment economic stimulus seems to be above the board, digging into the funds finds a pretty ridiculous earmark. According to the Detroit development blog MODEL D, a full $3.8 million in the congressional spending bill will go directly to the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, a group dedicated entirely to making sure they don’t tear down Tiger Stadium, even though it’s not used as a stadium.
($4M of your tax dollars to preserve this. What about Shea Stadium?)
There’s a raging debate about whether part of the government’s massive economic stimulus package should be used to help save stadium projects aimed at giving teams a new home. The theory is that those construction projects will provide good jobs and resuscitate business in oft underused areas. All of that’s valid for stadiums that will be built. But this is a money for a stadium that’s already been built, and left, by its team. And that team isn’t coming back any time soon.
So why should Tiger Stadium be saved? It’s actually an intriguing project. The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy plans to use $27 million to convert the remaining hulk of “The Corner” to house a combination of office space and a museum which, one would assume, would focus on the Tigers and Tiger Stadium.
But the full lower and upper decks of the main stadium front would be preserved (the bleachers and right and left field grandstands are already gone), as would the thousands of seats in those sections. There are more detailed plans here, complete with a six-page printable PDF of future schematics.
If this happens, and it sure sounds like it will, Tiger Stadium will be the first antique ballpark that avoids the wrecking ball. It could set the stage for other teams to move out and keep their fields, a la Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, if either Red Sox or Cubs fans ever stopped drinking pure nostalgia.
Yet even if it does, the entire project does seem to beg the question: Why? Do we really need to save the Old Tiger Stadium, at the cost of nearly $4 million that could be spent on another contruction or preservation project? Wouldn’t Michigan be better served with a revamped highway system than a museum about the Tigers? What about downtown Detroit, for God’s sake? And how do Michigan residents feel about Senator Carl Levin making this project one of his stimulus priorities?
All we know is that, if we were living in Black Bottom/Paradise Valley, we would not be thrilled.