Demolition contract awarded for old Tiger Stadium

DETROIT (Reuters) - A contract has been awarded to tear down most of historic Tiger Stadium -- home of some of baseball’s greatest players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Al Kaline -- a quasi-public arm of the City of Detroit said on Tuesday.

Fans watch the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians during a night game at Historic Tiger Stadium in Detroit, September 23, 1999. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Detroit’s Economic Development Corp, a nonprofit group that promotes economic development in the city, signed the demolition contract with a joint venture of MCM Management Corp in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Farrow Group Inc in Detroit.

Work on the stadium, which has sat largely unused since the city’s professional baseball team played its last game there almost nine years ago, could begin as early as next month. It will incur no cost to the city as the joint venture plans to sell the resulting scrap estimated to be worth $1 million or more, the agency said.

The ballpark opened April 20, 1912, the same day as Fenway Park in Boston, and charmed fans with such quirks as its flagpole standing in fair territory in center field.

The Tigers played their last game there on September 27, 1999, defeating the Kansas City Royals 8-2 before a sellout crowd of 43,356 that included many former Tigers players. The team moved to Comerica Park about a mile away the following season.

If the stadium is completely demolished, the joint venture will pay the agency $300,000 for site redevelopment. The agency said proposed plans include a mix of recreational, educational, commercial and residential development at “The Corner” of Michigan and Trumbull avenues in downtown Detroit.

A nonprofit group called the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has a memorandum of understanding to develop a portion of Tiger Stadium for public use, contingent in part on its ability to raise money for restoration, construction and operational needs, the agency said.

The conservancy is trying to raise an estimated $15 million for its plans, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The group has until June 1 to come up with $369,000 to cover six months’ worth of security and maintenance after the demolition, the agency said. The nonprofit group plans to preserve the playing field and a corner of the stadium from dugout to dugout for a community center and museum.

The economic development group said the site could be developed with as many as 100 new housing units and at least 30,000 square feet of commercial space alongside the nonprofit group’s planned project.

Reporting by Ben Klayman