Detroit officials have big plans for Corktown, one of the oldest residential areas in the city and a symbol of the Irish-American community in the region. The site of Tiger Stadium, the neighborhood’s most famous attraction—or what’s left of it, as the place was demolished in 2008—is about to be converted into a vibrant urban development that will honor the history of the site while also serving as a new tax base for the city.
Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue, the venue was designed by Osborn Engineering of Cleveland, OH, and had an initial capacity of 23,000 seats that more than doubled in 1937. The sports venue opened in 1912 as Navin Field (it was later called the Briggs Stadium, and became Tiger Stadium in 1961) to house the Detroit Tigers, one of the Major League Baseball teams.
By the 1970s and 1980s the facility had become one of the most loved sport venues despite its aging structure. Some improvements and additions—such as the Tiger Plaza that was built on an old and underutilized parking lot—were made in early 1990s under Mike Ilitch’s ownership. As the stadium continued to deteriorate, the community suggested several renovation plans but none of the ideas were put into practice. In September 1999 the Detroit Tigers played their final game at Tiger Stadium and moved to Comerika Park shortly after. Over the next decade the vacant stadium continued to deteriorate and became an example of Detroit’s decaying landscape. In 2008 the structure was razed.
Last week the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), which controls the stadium on behalf of the city, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop the site of the old Tiger Stadium through a combination of retail, residential and office space that would replace two parcels totaling approximately 9.5 acres along the Michigan and Trumbull avenues. According to the RFP, the mixed-use development should consist of approximately 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail space and 90 to 100 residential units representing a total of $20 million in private investment. The RFP also states that the proposed development plan already includes a 10,000-square-foot headquarters building for a nonprofit youth sports organization called Detroit PAL, while much of the historic baseball diamond that currently occupies the stadium site will be maintained for youth baseball.
“This vision for the site represents the best combination of input from all the significant stakeholders—the City of Detroit, the Corktown community, and all those who have fond memories of the great baseball games played at Tiger Stadium,” said in a statement George W. Jackson, Jr., president and CEO of DEGC.
The proposals are due in late May. DEGC is expected to announce the selected developer by the end of August 2014.
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Image of Tiger Stadium in Detroit by josephleenovak on Flickr