Motor City Muckraker
D-Day for Navin Field is June 6.
That’s the date the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) will start digging up the historic field at Michigan and Trumbull, according to numerous sources familiar with the plans.
PAL CEO Tim Richey reportedly told a prominent Corktown citizen that PAL, which has done nothing at the site since its April 13 groundbreaking, that June 6 will be the start of “demolition.” The person Richey told doesn’t want to be identified.
“They’re going to start bulldozing June 6,” confirms Tim McKay, longtime Corktown civic leader and historic preservationist
Furthermore, McKay says he’s learned the site will be closed down before the annual Corktown Homes Tour next weekend.
In recent years, the home tour has included a vintage 19th-century baseball game at Navin Field, but that won’t be possible if PAL shuts the site down.
“It’s frustrating that there isn’t a transparency and openness to this process,” McKay says, noting Richey has not been communicating with the community.
Nor has Richey returned repeated calls from Motor City Muckraker asking about the organization’s plans.
Despite criticism, PAL hasn’t budged from its plans to install artificial turf at its new youth stadium at the site of old Tiger Stadium.
Without public input, the city is selling the property to PAL for $1.
The existing field, on which the Tigers last played in 1999, would need to be removed and proper drainage installed even if it were to be replaced with natural grass. This weekend it has hosted community ball games as it has on hundreds of days since the volunteer grounds crew started cleaning and maintaining the ballpark in 2010. But apparently these games will be the last.
Since the groundbreaking, PAL has neglected the field and the perimeter around it, allowing grass to grow chest-high.
Michael Betzold is a former Free Press reporter and longtime area freelance journalist. He wrote Queen of Diamonds, a history of Tiger Stadium. He lives on Detroit’s east side.