The approval of development plans for the former home of the Detroit Tigers may breathe life into the now-vacant lot by 2017.
Since the Tigers left in 1999, most of Tiger Stadium (“The Corner”) has been demolished, leaving a 9.8-acre vacant site. Two separate proposals to develop the site received initial city approval, preserving the diamond while developing a mixed-use complex with retail, town homes and rental units. Provided enough funding is raised and Detroit grants final approval, this project would be a rare example of re-purposing a professional stadium.
The plans from the Larson Realty Group and the nonprofit Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) gathered support from locals, preservationists, developers and Detroit economic officials. The $33 million Larson plan revitalizes the park’s historic corner — Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue — with four stories of retail and housing as well as town homes along Trumbull Ave.
Detroit PAL and the Tiger Stadium Conservancy plan to preserve the stadium by restoring it and adding a scoreboard, dugout and 2,500 seats. They will also build a new PAL office in The Corner plaza. At a cost of $11 million, the proposal hopes to provide a field for about 12,000 youth, with Michigan senator Carl Levin explaining that “this is terrific news for all of us who sought to preserve the Tiger Stadium diamond as a magnet for youth sports, and for redevelopment of the site as a magnet for economic activity that will boost the surrounding neighborhood.”
Tiger Stadium’s redevelopment is a great example of how to solve one of sport’s biggest issues: what to do with unused properties. The idea of the community and developers collaborating to reuse an existing sports asset isn’t unprecedented, as the former stadium for the minor league baseball Indianapolis Indians shows. When the team left in 1996, the field was used as a midget car racing track and even a storage cite for Cash for Clunkers cars. But in August 2013, a redevelopment project by Core Redevelopment LLC reopened the stadium with a number of housing lofts.
If the Detroit project is a success, it may lay the groundwork for future unused stadiums around the country.