Letters to the Editor

Corktown's pitch

Your News Hits item "Struck out" (Metro Times, Aug. 1) refers to efforts by the Corktown community to convert much of Tiger Stadium into condos and retail space. Metro Times readers should know that Corktown and its community development corporation, Greater Corktown Development Corpor-ation (GCDC), never gave up on that vision.

It's also worth noting that while Corktown was supporting this concept, so-called stadium advocates like the Tiger Stadium Fan Club frowned upon that idea. These activists chose to ignore the community's wishes in favor of independent league baseball to compete with the Detroit Tigers.

Corktown's residents, business owners and community leaders understand that Tiger Stadium's historic significances can and should be leveraged into real economic development. It was with that goal and the stakeholders' recommendations in mind that the GCDC began working with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation on a modest and practical variation of the stakeholders plan. That effort is the genesis of both the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy and the current re-development plan endorsed by a Citizens District Council and approved by City Council.

The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy is working toward a historic redevelopment that will preserve and reuse a significant portion of Tiger Stadium, including the field, both dugouts, the broadcast booth, the visitors' clubhouse and a portion of the stands and concourses. Surrounding the field and remaining stadium structure, new mixed-use developments will rise up. Despite claims by our opponents, we have identified developers with bona fide interest in pursuing this project.

This plan is absolutely consistent with the goals and expectations expressed by Corktown residents and business owners since 1999. The endorsement of the Citizens District Council affirms that this plan meets the community's needs.

When the redevelopment is completed, more of Tiger Stadium will be preserved and reused than any other former major league ballpark. More importantly the field will become a unique and much-needed venue for Detroit's youth baseball programs. —Jeff Wattrick, project manager, and the board of directors of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy


Great Lakes, great wines

We read and enjoyed Mel Small's review of Royal Oak's Town Tavern ("A bistro in disguise," Metro Times, Aug. 1). We have dined often at Bill Roberts' restaurants and know him personally. Since starting our winery, Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, we have been disappointed that Bill has not carried Michigan wines. National and regional wine reviewers think more of Michigan wines than many Michigan restaurateurs. Thank you for championing our emerging wine industry. —Marylou and Don Coe, Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay


Bending our ear

Re: "Corn hole" (Metro Times, Aug. 15), I wonder why we do not hear more from the Michigan Sugar Beet Lobby about the efficacy of sugar beets for ethanol production. Sugar beets are a better source of ethanol than corn. The Germans used sugar beets to make ethanol during World War II.

Ethanol is a short-term fix. We need a reliable mass transit system. The masses know this and would use it. The elites just have a better ability to generate noise and confusion. —Mark Dobias, Sault Ste. Marie


Words worth living by

In "Nostalgia among the ruins" (Metro Times, Aug. 8), Jack Lessenberry wrote: "If all of us got together and agreed the past was important, but that the future is even more so — well then, Detroit might have a future, one in which the best of the past was celebrated and enjoyed, and the worst understood."

I think I am going to live by that quote. Very uplifting and well worded. —Dan Colella, Sterling Heights


Minors her major

In a recent column ("Nostalgia among the ruins," Metro Times, Aug. 8), Jack Lessenberry speculated,"[F]or most of the time they've been in Comerica, the team [the Tigers] has been so lousy they should have paid us to see them ... Imagine what a scrappy and affordable minor league team might have done to major league attendance in those years."

Yes, imagine what it might have done: Nothing! That's how much attendance changed for teams like the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees, that gained monopolies when their local competition left for open markets in the 1950s. Actually, the Yankees' attendance dropped from 1,497,784 in 1957, to 1,428,438 in 1958.

Similarly, the Cubs still sell out when Schaumburg, Kane County, Joliet and Windy City are at home, and the Reds, Red Sox and a myriad of other major league clubs draw as well when their local minor league teams are at home. In fact, it appears that having a minor league team in a major league market could enhance, not diminish attendance.

Baseball fans are not a fixed commodity; love of the game is learned. Where better to learn to love the game than in a small ball park where fans are close to the game, the atmosphere is engaging, practices are sometimes open to fans, players are accessible, and a young working-class family can afford to attend more than two or three games per season?

At present there is no "enterprising hot shot [trying] to buy or create an independent minor league franchise and have the team play in Tiger Stadium." But if ever there were, it wouldn't be the worst that could happen to Mike Ilitch and company. In fact, fans who attend out of love for the game, rather than merely riding the bandwagon when the Tigers are hot, might help see the team through the inevitable droughts in the win-loss record.

In short, as astute as Jack is, his assumption that one team would drain another's attendance is just plain wrong. —Pearl White, Wyandotte


Erratum: In our recent Out to Lunch column, "Little Ramona" (Metro Times, Aug. 8) We incorrectly identified Ramona Shureb's former employer. She worked for Live Nation.

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to [email protected]. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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