Tiger Stadium Demolition Resumes
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | June 9, 2009
Demolition crews are tearing down Tiger Stadium for the third time within a year. But this time, they won't stop until it's gone.
Despite a protest at Tiger Stadium last week, Detroit contractors began razing the 1923 structure the following day. Late Friday afternoon, a judge issued a temporary restraining order, which should have halted all destruction, but crews continued demolition until the end of the day.
On Monday Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards lifted the restraining order and rejected the conservancy's request for the injunction.
"[Demolition crews] were out there an hour after the decision. They didn't waste any time," says Michael Kirk, vice president of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which requested a permanent injunction to halt the demolition. "We don't understand it. There's no other development deal pending for the site, so the need for speed doesn't make any sense."
City attorneys argued that the conservancy could not raise enough for the $27 million construction project to retain Navin Field, the oldest part of the existing stadium complex.
Going to Bat for Tiger Stadium
The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Tiger Stadium on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1991 and 1992. After the National Trust added the historic buildings of downtown Detroit to the 2005 list, its Midwest Office helped establish the Greater Detroit Preservation Coalition to coordinate the many preservation organizations working to preserve buildings in the city's core.
"It is sad to see Detroit again choosing demolition over creative use of an iconic piece of its history. Only if the City has a shovel-ready use for the site should demolition be considered at this time," says Royce Yeater, Midwest Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Since the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy was making real progress toward their goals, they should be given every opportunity to succeed."
Plans to demolish the remaining section of the old stadium were set back in motion after a 7-1 vote on Tuesday, June 2, by the board of Detroit's Economic Development Corporation. Waymon Guillebreaux, executive vice president, said in a statement last week that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy "is still far short of its targets" agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding with the city that was signed last fall and claimed the conservancy did not have "secure commitments for funding the project."
The board acted despite $3.8 million earmarked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy's plan; an identified $19 million from new market, "brownfield," and state and federal historic tax credits (some of which were already applied for and approved); and $500,000 in grants, loans and private donations.
"Right now I'm incredibly discouraged," says Karen Nagher, executive director of Preservation Wayne, based in Detroit. "[City lawyers] painted a very bleak picture that made it sound like the conservancy hasn't done anything."
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