Help Save Part Of Tiger's Stadium

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.
Plans for a light rail system in Detroit progressed this week when a regional planning group green-lighted the proposed development.

Officials with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments approved a Detroit Department of Transportation plan to construct and operate light rail service on Woodward Avenue between downtown and Eight Mile.

"This is an important step toward the establishment of a reliable rail transportation system that will assist Detroiters in getting to and from their destinations," Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said in a statement. "This approval of DDOT's rail project will also multiply economical opportunities for business growth."

SEMCOG representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

According to SEMCOG, the proposed line is expected to be the first in a regional plan that includes rapid transit in three counties and would "serve as a distributor and feeder" to an Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail line the council is studying.

"I am pleased that DDOT is moving in the right direction on the Woodward Avenue Light Rail Transit (LRT) initiative by putting the customer first, as gas prices continue to soar," said Lovevett Williams, interim director of DDOT, in a statement. "

The Woodward line would follow an eight-mile stretch from the Michigan State Fairgrounds near Eight Mile to downtown Detroit, feature stops at 13 to 15 stations and carry about 22,200 daily riders, SEMCOG said.

Building costs are estimated at $371 million. Federal funds are expected to cover more than half the project's cost.

An environmental impact statement is being drafted, and pending final designs and application to a Federal Transit Administration program, construction is not expected to begin until 2011, according to SEMCOG.

"The Woodward Avenue LRT project will stimulate community and economic development in southeast Michigan," U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said in a statement.

The Detroit News