After years of discussion, the corner of Michigan and Trumbull will get a new look starting this spring.
The Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) announced yesterday that it reached its fundraising goal and will break ground on its new headquarters this spring. Senator Carl Levin had earmarked $3.8 million in 2009 to go to field preservation, and this was given to PAL yesterday. All developments will surround the playing field, including Larson Realty's mixed-use development "The Corner," which will house retail and residential projects.
Navin Field, also known as Briggs Stadium, also known as Tiger Stadium, has had a long, complicated past. It served as home to the Tigers from 1912-99 and the Lions from 1938-74, until they moved to the Pontiac Silverdome. The deteriorating stadium was partially demolished in 2008, then fully demoed in 2009. The fence along Michigan Avenue still stands, along with the flag pole out in center field. A group of volunteers, the Navin Field Grounds Crew, started maintaining the playing field in the summer of 2010 and have kept it up until now, hosting informal games when weather cooperates.
The biggest battle recently has been the fight over turf vs. natural grass. Dave Mesrey from the Navin Field Grounds Crew says that, "Natural grass isn't just safer for children and better for the environment, it also represents real preservation." PAL says artificial turf will last longer, be easier to maintain, and be easier for multiple sports.
While the development will be mainly for local kids, it still holds a lot of baseball memories. Mesrey says, "We hope they'll continue to allow meaningful public access at the site. We're afraid that if they put in artificial turf, it loses its appeal as a tourist attraction."
As we approach the Super Bowl and close the door on another sad year from the Lions (good-bye Megatron!) and count the days until pitchers and catchers report (16!), let's take one last look back at the historic field where our favorite teams played.