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Friday, October 23, 2015

Community meeting called to address the future of Navin Field, site of historic Tiger Stadium

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 4:26 PM

Updated Oct. 23, 11:24 p.m.

The future of the site once occupied by Tiger Stadium is still up for debate. Navin Field, as it was named when it opened in 1912, is made of real grass and open to the public, but those details may well change when the Detroit Police Athletic League takes over next spring and begins using it for its youth sports programs. PAL's proposed changes include limiting public access and installing AstroTurf in lieu of cultivating and maintaining a field of real grass. 

Former MT copy editor Dave Mesrey, a founding member of the Navin Field Grounds Crew, has advocated for historic preservation, which he contends is incompatible with the use of AstroTurf.

"Senator [Carl] Levin and our colleagues at the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy secured a $3.8 million earmark for the site back in 2009," Mesrey said. "That earmark calls for economic development in Corktown ... and for the preservation of a public park. We just don't see how installing artificial turf on this historic site represents preservation in any way."

PAL's mission, Mesrey says, is an admirable one, and one his group can certainly appreciate. "We've held many little league games at the Corner these last five years," he said. "Seeing those kids enjoy the fruits of our labor is really something special. We just hope they can continue to play here on natural grass in the PAL era." 

"Not only is real grass better for the environment," Mesrey added, "but most importantly, it's a safer and healthier alternative to any kind of artificial turf."

Debra Walker of the Corktown Community Organization is hoping PAL will decide on real grass too, not only because it will continue to keep the field historically authentic, but because it will also continue to attract historic baseball leagues that play on the field. She says those games will cease to happen if fake turf is installed. 

According to Walker, the community is also antsy to know how much, if any, public access PAL is willing to grant and at what price it might come. 

Walker says there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered from both PAL and the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, who are working together on plans for the field's future, as well as the Larson Realty Group, which is planning retail and residential development adjacent to the field. 

To help shed some light on their plans, the Corktown Community Organization is holding a community meeting where PAL, the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, Eric Larson of the Larson Realty Group, and the Navin Field Grounds Crew will each give a presentation outlining their visions for the field. That meeting takes place on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, located at 1358 Abbott Street in Corktown. 

Walker is hoping the meeting will bring some clarity to the community, especially when it comes to public access and how much PAL will allow. "We want to hear specifics about what they have planned," she says.

She also hopes to give the community a voice.

"I [want] to give everyone a chance to speak," Walker says. "To give the community a chance to ask questions." 

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