Friday, June 26, 2009

Levin's $4 million for Tiger Stadium: Spend it Anyway

I quote Crain's Detroit Business from June 10, 2009:

Levin's Tiger Stadium earmark still could be spent

(AP) "A $3.8 million federal earmark intended to help save Tiger Stadium may end up being spent even if nothing is left of the stadium." Read the entire article here.

Below, is an archive of the brief opinion I wrote back in July of last year:

The Detroit Tigers moved to Comerica Park in April 2000. Since that time, the city of Detroit and those interested in preserving the old Tiger Stadium have been looking for private donors to keep the stadium standing. Toward the end, not even Earnie Harwell was able to save the stadium from the wrecking ball. The simple message here is that if private investors can find no value in an historic old ballpark after nine years of trying, then maybe it has no value. Ah, but wait! Senator Levin and his colleague Senator Stabenow have come to the rescue, with $4 million of YOUR money. When I first heard about this, I planned to write a story about it. Then I discovered a great article from Dan Calabrese of the North Star Writers Group. I thought he said what I intended to say, only better. So, with his permission, I present it to you in its entirety.

If Deficits Are So Bad, Why a Federal Earmark for Tiger Stadium?
North Star Writers Group
By Dan Calabrese

Lots of people love venerable Tiger Stadium. Few love it more than I do. I attended hundreds of Detroit Tigers games there - from the day in 1975 when I saw Hank Aaron just miss a home run as a Milwaukee Brewer, to the day in 1999 when Todd Jones, the Tigers´ closer then and now, struck out Carlos Beltran to finish off the Kansas City Royals and close the door on Tiger Stadium's tenure as home of my favorite team.

But just because people love it doesn't mean it's a priority of the nation to preserve it. Don't try telling that, however, to our spend-happy Congress, particularly Michigan's two Democratic U.S. Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.

Levin and Stabenow, proud as your cat showing you the mouse she just caught, have announced that they've secured a $4 million federal earmark to pay for the preservation of 96-year-old Tiger Stadium's playing field, as well as a small portion of the grandstand area behind home plate. The full Senate still needs to vote on the earmark, and it still has to pass the House and survive conference.

But even if it never gets any farther than it's already gotten, this needs to be called out for what it is - a completely irresponsible waste of federal money.

It's been known for some time that Tiger Stadium preservationists, fronted by beloved former broadcaster Ernie Harwell, were running out of time and options to raise the money they needed for the partial preservation. Letting the entire ballpark continue to stand was out of the question. The City of Detroit had already let Tiger Stadium twist in the wind for the nine years since the Tigers left it for shiny new Comerica Park, and even in a city famous for letting its historic buildings sit and rot, consensus had emerged that it was time to let go, and let the wrecking ball swing.

Harwell and his group were given a June deadline, and then got an extension into August, to raise the funds necessary to keep the grandstand standing and the playing field intact. Everyone seems to love the idea, but no one was stepping forward with private funds. It seemed quite reasonable to assume that, come August, the entire stadium would come down absent the emergence of a private donor.

When I clicked my Tigers news link last weekend and saw a headline announcing that they had secured the money, I thought to myself, "I wonder who's forking it over?" Then I saw where they're getting it, and I thought, "Oh. I am."

1 comment:

Steve G said...

Having grown up in the Detroit area and seen many ballgames at Tiger Stadium, it really breaks my heart to see that picture of it falling apart. It's time to give the ol' girl the respect she deserves and tear her down.