With a deadline looming to show it can provide tens of millions of dollars to restore and redevelop Tiger Stadium, the group trying to save the historic ballpark got a boost this week in Washington.A $410 billion omnibus spending bill approved by the House on Wednesday includes $3.8 million for the Tiger Stadium project.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., included the earmark in the bill. The Senate is expected to consider the spending plan next week.
The earmark's progress "was terrific news and a very important confirmation of the project and confirmation of Sen. Levin's support," Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy President Thomas Linn said Thursday.
"Hopefully this funding will stay in the bill," Levin said in a statement. "It is an important step for the economic development of the city of Detroit."
Tiger Stadium was built in 1912 as Navin Field and later was known as Briggs Stadium. The Detroit Tigers played there before moving to nearby Comerica Park after the 1999 season. Most of the historic ballpark was demolished last year, but a section extending from dugout to dugout was left standing.
The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has ambitious plans to redevelop the stadium as a commercial and educational space with a usable playing field, with an estimated price tag of $27 million.
The group faces a Sunday deadline to show the city it can provide that funding and meet other benchmarks on the development's viability.
Linn said the group expects to submit a "substantial package with respect to financial and other planning issues" by Monday, showing how the project will be financed by a combination of individual donations, foundation support, loans, state and federal tax credits and the federal earmark.
"Of course, this is more of a journey than a destination. There is still more work to do," Linn said.