Fenway is a shrine; Tiger Stadium, a pile of rubble
On the day after the final act in the Tiger Stadium drama came to pass, it’s helpful to remember that it didn’t have to be this way:
It’s the smallest ballpark in the majors, many seats are obstructed behind poles, it’s crammed into a small city block, and there is no room around the concession stands. And yet, the stadium that is home to the Boston Red Sox, has become a landmark beloved by fans and is thriving in the struggling economy . . .
. . . Built in 1912, Fenway is three years shy of its 100th birthday. Lacking the amenities featured in many new stadiums, the park relies on old-fashioned nostalgia to help sell tickets and incite excitement among fans. “They have managed to tell people that while all the rest of the modern world is basking in this comfort and luxury, you don’t come to a ballgame to be comfortable. You come to a ballgame to see the ballgame,” said Ryan.
One of the things I’ll always wonder is what would have happened if Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch had sunk some money into a thoughtful renovation of Tiger Stadium instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses and build a shiny new park.
I’ll grant that the Detroit economy was and will remain terrible, and I’ll also grant that it’s probably harder to sell nostalgia to someone who visits Detroit to gamble than to someone who comes back to Boston to see the old college campus, but they could have at least tried.