With demolition work already underway on Tiger Stadium, famed Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell and his attorney Gary Spicer are still working to preserve the ball diamond and a corner of the stadium.
“We laid it on the line to people, and raised $200,000 in five hours,” Harwell said of their efforts Tuesday afternoon.“We’re aiming for $400,000 by the Aug. 1 deadline,” Spicer said, “and are a the point now where we’re asking groups and individuals interested to send contributions.”
Checks are to be made payable to the Ernie Harwell Foundation, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, and sent in care of S. Gary Spicer, 16845 Kercheval Ave., Suite 5, Grosse Pointe, MI, 48230, Harwell said.Spicer said Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had not solicited contributions because it had not yet received nonprofit status.
The conservancy has received encouragement from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s office, Spicer said, that federal funds could be earmarked for the preservation project.
The first donations will go to preserving the playing field and starting a $2.4 million fund to build a 20,000-square-foot museum for Harwell’s memorabilia collection, now housed at the Detroit Public Library, Spicer said.“That’s Phase One and that’s what we want to explain to the city council before they act on further approval for demolition,” Spicer said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Detroit Economic Development Corp. asked the Detroit City Council for final permission to allow complete clearance of the site at Michigan and Trumbull avenues.
The city gave the conservancy until Aug. 1 to raise about $369,000 to save the playing field and the Michigan Avenue-Cochrane Street corner. With the council in recess on Aug. 1, action was needed now, EDC chairman Eddie McDonald said.
The conservancy also was to show the potential for raising annual funding to operate the preserved portion of the stadium, officials said.“We had a memo of understanding with the conservancy since last July,” said Scott Veldhuis, project manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which staffs the DEDC.
“There is no funding in place to take care of the building physically, or for operations,” he said. The DEDC approved a demolition contract in April with MCM Management Corp. of Bloomfield Hills and Detroit-based Farrow Group Inc. The council and Mayor Kilpatrick approved an extension of time for potential preservation until Aug. 1.
The demolition partnership will tear down and remove the entire stadium except the area between the first-base and third-base dugouts at no cost, in exchange for the right to sell the scrap metals, estimated to be worth at least $1 million.
However, the companies will pay $300,000 if allowed to tear the whole stadium down during the same project.