History of Tiger Stadium
While the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street has served as home base for the Tigers since 1895, the onsite playing field has gone through several incarnations. Bennett Park was the first ballpark to be built on the spot and consisted of an L-shaped grandstand with a peaked roof. It was made of wood, and the park took up approximately half the lot that Tiger Stadium would take up in later years. Over time, bleachers were added on to the wooden structure, but the park was eventually demolished in favor of a steel-and-concrete stadium in 1912.
Navin Field consisted of a covered grandstand that ran down the first and third base lines. Over the years, the stadium's name was changed from Navin Field to Briggs Stadium and finally to Tiger stadium in 1961. The years also saw a series of expansions to the stadium that overtook surrounding property and added upper decks to the original structure, albeit with support poles that blocked the view of the playing field from some seats. Because Trumbull Street bordered the stadium to the east, there was no room to expand, which meant that the upper-deck addition shortened right field and overhung that part of the grandstand.
Old Tiger Stadium was a central feature of the Corktown neighborhood for much of its history.
Tiger Stadium in its Hey Day
The lights perched on the upper deck were added in 1948. An article posted on Baseball-Statistics.com analyzed how the unique attributes of Tiger Stadium affected gameplay. The list included a flag pole in center field, a shortened right field, and double decks.
Tiger Plaza Food Court
Tiger Plaza Food Court was added in 1993 after Mike Ilitch bought the team.
The upper deck expansions to the existing stadium required support poles that blocked the view for some seats in the lower decks.
The Last Game at Tiger Stadium
The Tigers played their last game at Tiger Stadium on September 27th, 1999. They beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2.
The book Corner to Copa details the last game at old Tiger Stadium and the Tigers move to Comerica Park.
The Abandoned Tiger Stadium
As might be expected, the Tigers move to Comerica Park in 1999 hurt the Corktown community—as did the vacillation about the stadium that left it abandoned for almost a decade—but as Detroit's oldest neighborhood, Corktown's strong-spirited residents kept the community moving forward.
This is partly due to the community's strong sense of historical identity. Detroit's oldest surviving neighborhood was founded by Irish immigrants. Although the neighborhood has gotten smaller over time—encroached by the Lodge Freeway and various industries—it's retained many of its historic structures and the descendants of its original Irish families. In fact, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
These days, Corktown's Irish roots still give the neighborhood flavor, and its unique attributes—nightlife, art galleries, historic workman's cottages, Victorian houses, newly constructed lofts—have drawn people to the area, making the neighborhood one of Detroit's most diverse.
Partially Demolished Tiger Stadium
Abandoned for almost a decade, the stadium was partially demolished in the summer of 2008. The demolition was halted in the hopes of finding a viable plan for it by the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy. This left part of the stadium still standing for almost a year.
Tiger Stadium remained partially demolished for almost a year. As of June 5th, 2009, however, a court stay was lifted and demolition continued. The site was cleared by August 2009.