Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.
Currently on my social media, there is a debate about the conditions of Baltimore and whether President Trump is exposing the problems of urban blight or if he’s just an old-fashioned racist.
I bring that up because you could easily switch the debate to Detroit, Mich. As such, I don’t want to crack jokes at the city’s expense. It would be too easy and me? An expert on race relations? Hell, I’m just a baseball fan.
Having said that, I went to Comerica Park and in retrospect, I wonder about the folly of downtown revitalization projects in downtrodden cities.
Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, is arguably the centerpiece of one such grandiose vision to turn a blue-collar ghost town into a concrete Eden where — flush with riches from visitors like me — the residents light victory cigars with hundred-dollar bills and fart through silk sheets at night. It’s next to Ford Field, where the NFL Lions play and within walking distance of the new home of the NHL’s Red Wings.
Comerica Park looks great on television.
But it looks like Detroit in real life.
And Detroit is not a good place to be.
The two-block walk to the stadium takes you through some truly sketchy parts of town, where the revitalization project didn’t lead to any new development. There are droves of beggars and other locals staring at you, sizing you up for a fight, and this is on the church grounds next to the stadium.
You turn a corner from a church and there it is, that curious retro look to a stadium that was 20 years old when I arrived. Why is going retro curious? Because Comerica Park replaced a bona fide retro stadium. Tiger Stadium served its residents for 88 years.
Anyway, the day I went the Tigers honored Alan Trammell, who played 20 years in the city and won a World Series back in 1984. That team was awesome. The current Tigers aren’t, so you’re not going for the baseball.
The fans? Welp, within five minutes of arriving I passed a twentysomething who wept openly and loudly while being embraced closely by his two bros. They were too young to be weeping over the memory of Alan Trammell, which might have been understandable. I got a little misty-eyed when I saw Magic Johnson’s jersey being retired in Los Angeles, but I suppose Detroit is just a city where grown men aren’t afraid to cry in public.
Comerica Park would be somewhat comfortable during a night game, but I wouldn’t want to be in that neighborhood at night.
Ultimately, if Comerica Park were a girl, it would be a butterface. Looks great from a distance. It really does, but her face…
If I were to guess, Comerica Park and Ford Field were the centerpieces of a short-sighted project. That city leaders figured businesses would flock to the newer, shinier, glitzier downtown when they were built. Nightlife. Industry. Somebody would show up.
Only they didn’t. Where do you go before first pitch or after the final out? Not a museum. Not a Buffalo Wild Wings. Not an antique car display of Motor City’s history. They don’t exist. If you’re smart, you head straight to your car as swiftly as you can. The lesson is, I presume, for city leaders to court businesses for your new downtown while approving the tiger statues that growl atop the giant left-field scoreboard when the Tigers hit a home run.
Because the Tigers don’t hit a lot of home runs, either. I may not know diddily about race or socioeconomics, but I can tell you baseballs don’t clear that outfield fence.