In Spring 2000 it was hard for many fans to picture the Detroit Tigers playing anywhere else other than Tiger Stadium, a ballpark where they had called home since 1912. However that changed in April 2000 when the Tigers moved to Comerica Park in downtown Detroit, a ballpark that the team has great success at, winning two American League Championships.
The concept of a new stadium for the Tigers began in the 1980s. Fans saw no need to replace Tiger Stadium as it was a great place to watch a ballgame and was a historical ballpark full of charm and character. Ownership wanted a new stadium with more modern amenities that include luxury suites and club seats. In 1988 several sites were identified as possible locations for a ballpark including west of Fox Theater, the northeast edge of downtown Detroit and north of Tiger Stadium in the Briggs community. The Tigers initially favored the site north of Tiger Stadium until the revitalization of Detroit’s theater district began. In 1987, the Tiger Stadium Fan Club was formed to support renovating the stadium and developed plans to renovate Tiger Stadium. The Tigers were leery of this plan because they would have to acquire 10 acres of land and also close the stadium for two years. In 1992 Detroit entrepreneur Mike Illitch purchased the Tigers and was committed to building a new stadium for the team in order to spur redevelopment in downtown Detroit. However, an ordinance was passed by voters banning public financing on any new stadiums. The Tigers were not detoured from building a new ballpark in downtown Detroit. In 1995 the city agreed to help fund a new downtown stadium and in March 1996 voters approved a plan for construction. Following other ballparks that were built during the 1990s, the Tigers new ballpark was built mainly of steel and concrete, with a brick exterior. Construction began October 29, 1997.
AT COMERICA PARK
For the first time in over 100 years, opening day baseball was played at a location other than at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. Nearly 41,000 fans filled Comerica Park on opening day, April 11, 2000. Comerica Park is among several other prominent buildings including Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions and the Fox Theater. As one approaches the ballpark, fans see the brick exterior, massive light towers and defiantly cannot miss the enormous tiger sculptures at many of the entrances. Once inside the ballpark, fans are on the main concourse as the field is 25 feet below street level.
Consisting of three levels, no seat at Comerica Park is obstructed. Nearly every seat in the main grandstand has an excellent view of downtown Detroit. It extends from behind homeplate to the left and right field foul poles and the upper deck is split along the first base side. Fans can walk along the main concourse of the ballpark without ever losing sight of the playing field. In straight away dead centerfield are several fountains that produce liquid fireworks when a homerun is hit. Located along the left-centerfield wall are six statues of Tiger Hall of Famer’s, including Ty Cobb, Al Kaline and Hank Greenberg. The main 6,000 square foot HD video/scoreboard sits behind one level of seats in left field. Other than watching the Tigers game, there are many amenities at Comerica Park. They include a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round or just taking some time to stroll around the ballpark to check out the different view from various sections. Few changes have occurred at Comerica Park since it opened. After the 2004 season, the bullpens that were once located in right field were moved behind the left field fence and in there place 950 seats were added. The HD video/scoreboard was added prior to the 2012 season, replacing the existing one. Although the Tigers were a dismal team during their first several seasons at Comerica Park, today, they are one of the most dominant teams in baseball with stars such as Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.