December 19, 2006

Our Annual Opening Day Stop Just Got Better!

The following article is taken from the Detroit News and was written by David Josar.

DETROIT-- - Baseball fans will have one last chance to visit Tiger Stadium before it's dismantled and the memorabilia inside sold off, city officials announced Monday.

The public goodbye for the hallowed grounds at Michigan and Trumbull likely will occur just before the April 2 opening day game at its successor, Comerica Park.

"People will be able to go out on the pitcher's mound and take snapshots," said Matt Allen, press secretary to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

On Monday, armed with flashlights and digital cameras, roughly 60 representatives from 10 auction companies spent about 45 minutes going through the stadium to determine how and what they could sell.

The companies are to submit proposals to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. by Jan.11, and an auction likely will be held by the end of next year.

About a half-dozen of the old stadium's fans showed up for Monday's closed-to-the-public tour, hoping for another glimpse of the ball field that has been unused since 1999.

"Maybe I can get one picture of them opening up the door," said Craig Janos, 53, from Warren. "I just want to get a glimpse."

Janos began clicking the shutter on his Canon AE-1 camera around 9:30 a.m., as representatives from the auction houses arrived.

But the stadium's admirers weren't allowed in: This tour was strictly business. City officials said the place isn't up for a social visit. Allen said the interior is so dilapidated that there are several feet of standing water in some places.

Armed with a flashlight and digital camera, auctioneer Tim Lile of Dayton, Ohio, said he hopes the ballpark could be a moneymaker for his business, Innovative Auctions Inc.

"There's a big interest in sports memorabilia," Lile said.

Some of the biggest treasures, he said, will probably be found in areas that had been off-limit to the public -- such as the front offices and the locker and training rooms.

His company has handled auctions of defunct schools and shopping malls.

Lile said he'll propose holding both an Internet-based and in-person auction.

The live auction, Lile said, would get more bidders, which in turn would push up prices.

In June, Kilpatrick announced the city had decided to keep a small part of the ballpark intact, but raze most of what is on the 8 1/2 -acre tract to make way for housing and commercial development.

He also unveiled an architectural rendering of what the site could look like.

The city, however, is still waiting to line up developers for the concept and some critics contend Detroit officials are rushing to demolish the park without guarantees anything with replace it.

The city owns the stadium, but it had been leased and maintained by the Detroit Tigers.

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or

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