While demolition continues along the outfield of Tiger Stadium, the effort to save part of the old ballpark took a turn in favor of preservation on Monday, when a Detroit City Council committee removed its recommendation to tear down the entire ballpark.
The city's Economic Development Corporation recommended last week that the Council vote to demolish the whole facility. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday, but the committee is now recommending to save part of the park.
That decision came to the surprise to members of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which took it as a victory in its effort to preserve part of the stadium. The group has been working toward an Aug. 1 deadline set by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to raise approximately $369,000 for maintaining part of the field, providing security and paying the demolition company for lost scrap revenue.
The conservancy had been preparing to present the City Council with proof of funds on Tuesday to stave off a demolition vote. Though it apparently has the Council's support, the Friday deadline for submitting the funds to avoid full demolition still stands.
"Obviously, our position looks a lot stronger today ... than it did yesterday and the day before," Gary Gillette, a member of the conservancy's board of directors, said on Monday.
The conservancy has been trying to raise money for the past several weeks, including earmarks for approximately $4 million submitted for the Federal budget by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and loans from other organizations. The group received another victory on Monday when it was granted a Federal tax exemption, allowing it to solicit charitable donations.
The group also has received approximately $400,000 in funds raised by the Ernie Harwell Foundation. The Hall of Fame broadcaster is a member of the conservancy's board, and the organization's plan for redeveloping the stadium is expected to center on a museum that will house Harwell's collection of baseball artifacts.
"We have gotten a lot more interest in the last month, and particularly the last two weeks," Gillette said.
Tiger Stadium last hosted the Tigers in 1999 and has sat mostly vacant since 2001, save for a party on the playing field prior to the 2005 Super Bowl. Demolition of the ballpark began last month and has thus far focused on the structure beyond left field, most of which has been torn down.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.