Detroit Tigers: The Fate of Michigan & Trumbull


This week has been a rough one for the property at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. 

This historic spot of land was the home of the Detroit Tigers from 1895 until 1999 when Comerica Park opened for the 2000 season. Since the closing of the historic stadium, preservationists and Tigers fans have fought to keep the footprint of the stadium exactly where it has been for over one hundred years. 

Aug 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers hat and glove in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In 2009, Tiger Stadium was demolished, but only after a long battle between preservationists and the City of Detroit. Memorabilia was removed from the stadium prior to demolition and several proposals were declined to redevelop the site, add a museum, and to keep the field and the space between the dugouts. Nothing worked. After the stadium was demolished and the scrap metal was sold, all that remains is the footprint of the infield diamond.

Since 2010, the field has been cared for by the volunteer organization that calls itself the Navin Field Grounds Crew. They have dedicated their time and money as well as their love for the historical corner in Detroit. They have worked with the government to see that the $3.8 million federal earmarks for the field have been used appropriately and that the field remains a public place.

Unfortunately for the Navin Field Grounds Crew and the fans who want to preserve the green space at the Corner, the City of Detroit and the Police Athletic League (PAL) have decided to give the field to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. to let the PAL build a headquarters on the site. The deal did include preserving the playing field, but it will no longer be considered a public space. The city also wants to bring in a developer to add a retail center and housing on the Corner.

Despite the fact that this decision could employ up to 30 people in the headquarters, there is a problem with it. The PAL wants to remove the grass from the field and replace it with artificial turf. This has been the biggest controversy with the transfer of the land. The PAL has run several studies to decide what type of turf to use, but the Navin Field Grounds Crew argues the decision by stating that artificial turf is not safe and it defeats the purpose of preserving the field like it was within the confines of Navin Field, Briggs Stadium, and Tiger Stadium.

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The different materials that the PAL wants to use on the field can cause chronic problems with people who are exposed to them. The different types of turf contain petroleum byproducts, zinc and chromium, arsenic, and other dangerous chemicals. When these chemicals are inhaled, they can cause problems in the lungs. The small particles release into the air as the turf breaks down over time. The Navin Field Grounds Crew maintains that dirt and real grass do not cause the same types of problems and they have science to back them up. 

The Navin Field Grounds Crew needs all the help they can get to keep this important historical field covered in real grass.