Detroit Baseball Fans Clean Up Site Of Tiger Stadium Detroit tore down the old Tiger Stadium in 2009 because it was "blight." But since then, the city has done little to maintain the site. So about a year ago, a few guys brought in some heavy-duty landscaping equipment, and mowed and cleaned it up. And it's evolved into a loosely knit group that comes down every other week to clean up and play baseball with their kids. But the city disapproves. It has fenced off the place and put locks on the gates, but people keep cutting them off and going in anyway.
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Detroit Baseball Fans Clean Up Site Of Tiger Stadium

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Detroit Baseball Fans Clean Up Site Of Tiger Stadium

Detroit Baseball Fans Clean Up Site Of Tiger Stadium

Detroit Baseball Fans Clean Up Site Of Tiger Stadium

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Detroit tore down the old Tiger Stadium in 2009 because it was "blight." But since then, the city has done little to maintain the site. So about a year ago, a few guys brought in some heavy-duty landscaping equipment, and mowed and cleaned it up. And it's evolved into a loosely knit group that comes down every other week to clean up and play baseball with their kids. But the city disapproves. It has fenced off the place and put locks on the gates, but people keep cutting them off and going in anyway.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports.

DAVE MESREY: I'm at Michigan and Trumbull right now...

SARAH CWIEK: And it bothers them that soon after Tiger Stadium's demolition, the site was fenced in and then neglected. So around the start of baseball season last year, Mesrey decided to do something about it.

MESREY: We couldn't stand the sight of six and seven-foot-tall weeds all around the perimeter. So we got together. I organized something last summer called the great Tiger Stadium weed-out.

CWIEK: Derry says he never meant for the group to become quite so official, but he does like the name.

TOM DERRY: Tiger Stadium's gone, unfortunately. It's never coming back. But we have our original Navin Field from 1912 and all the history from when it was Navin Field, Briggs Field, Tiger Stadium. The field is still here, and all the history is still here.

CWIEK: As Derry talks, he eyes an extended family - grandparents, parents, and a little boy - playing a game of pick-up baseball. Derry says he gets a kick out of watching games like this here.

DERRY: It's a very special place here. There's probably no place in the state of Michigan that's brought more people together than this corner has.

CWIEK: That's frustrating to city officials, who have long eyed the land as prime space to attract a major development project. Somer Woods is with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office.

SOMER WOODS: It's not a special events space. It is not a park. It is a piece of land that we understand that has a lot of connections to people, but it cannot be set up, nor is it zoned to be as such.

CWIEK: But Woods also acknowledges that the city doesn't really have the resources to maintain this site. The two sides are trying to work out an agreement that would give the Navin Field grounds crew permission to maintain it while indemnifying the city against liability claims. But Woods is firm that the site can only be used on the city's terms.

WOODS: But it cannot be a space for playing baseball. That space is not meant for that.

CWIEK: Not meant for baseball? Needless to say, that's not quite how Tom Derry and his grounds crew see it. Derry says he knows things won't go on like this forever. But he hopes whatever comes along leaves the historic infield alone and accessible to baseball fans.

DERRY: Eventually, something's going to happen here. I would like to see it remain, you know, first and foremost, a baseball field, where anybody can go out and play.

CWIEK: For NPR News, I'm Sarah Cwiek in Detroit.

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