Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Tiger Stadium

Tiger Stadium was the home ballpark to the Detroit Tigers baseball team. Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the site was host to over a century of baseball as well as other events including concerts and many years of Detroit Lions football.

The Detroit Tigers played their inaugural 1895 season at League Park on East Lafayette Street, just north of the Belle Isle Bridge. Professional baseball was first played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull on April 28, 1896. Team owner George Vanderbeck constructed a 5,000-seat wooden stadium and named it Bennett Park, after Charlie Bennett, a popular catcher for the Detroit Wolverines. The Wolverines were a National League team that played at Recreation Park from 1881 to 1888, where the Detroit Medical Center is now located.

In 1901 the Tigers became charter members of the American League, and seating capacity was increased to 8,500. “Blue laws” prohibited playing baseball on Sunday within city limits. Therefore, Sunday games were played at Burns Park in Springwells Township, just west of the city’s border.

From 1911 to 1912, Tigers owner Frank Navin built a larger stadium of steel and concrete to replace the smaller wood facility. Navin Field was a 23,000-seat stadium was designed by Osborn Engineering of Cleveland, Ohio. Walter Briggs Sr. purchased the Tigers after Navin’s death, and swiftly expanded the park before the start of the 1936 season, when the park became known as Briggs Stadium. By the 1938 season, additional expansion had completed the full enclosure of the playing field and seating capacity had increased to 54,500.

John Fetzer purchased full ownership of the Tigers in 1961, and changed the park’s name to Tiger Stadium. In 1977, ownership of the stadium, but not the team, was sold for $1 to the City of Detroit and a 30-year lease was extended to the team. Over the next seven years, the city spent $18.5 million to update the ballpark. By the mid-90s, new Tigers owner Mike Ilitch decided to build a new stadium downtown. The final game in Tiger Stadium was played on September 27, 1999. Before 43,356 fans, the Tigers earned an 8-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The stadium had hosted 6,873 regular season games, 35 postseason contests and three All-Star Games. The new stadium, Comerica Park, opened on April 11. 2000.

Demolition of Tiger Stadium began in 2008 and was completed the following year. In 2016, the Detroit Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) began developing the property to include their headquarters, a baseball field, and future residential, commercial and business development.



Aerial view of Tiger Stadium, 1962 - 2014.003.076

Interior view of Tiger Stadium during a game, 1965 - 2012.032.138

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