Comerica Park

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Comerica Park
Comerica Park.svg
Comerica Park in 2013.jpg
Location 2100 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°20′21″N 83°2′55″W / 42.33917°N 83.04861°W / 42.33917; -83.04861Coordinates: 42°20′21″N 83°2′55″W / 42.33917°N 83.04861°W / 42.33917; -83.04861
Broke ground October 29, 1997
Opened April 11, 2000
Owner Detroit-Wayne County Stadium Authority
Operator Ilitch Holdings, Inc.
Surface Grass
Construction cost $300 million
($411 million in 2014 dollars[1])
Architect HOK Sport (now Populous)
SHG, Inc.
Rockwell Group
Project manager International Facilities Group, LLC.[2]
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Services engineer M-E Engineers Inc.[3]
General contractor Hunt-Turner-White[4]
Capacity 40,120 (2000-2002)
41,070 (2003-2007)
41,782 (2008)
41,255 (2009-2013)
41,681 (2014-present)[5]
Record attendance 45,280 (July 26, 2008 against Chicago White Sox)[6]
Field dimensions Left field – 345 feet (105 m)
Left-center – 370 feet (113 m)
Center field – 420 feet (128 m)
Right-center – 365 feet (111 m)
Right field – 330 feet (101 m)
Tenants
Detroit Tigers (MLB) (2000–present)

Comerica Park is an open-air ballpark located in Downtown Detroit. It serves as the home of the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball, replacing historic Tiger Stadium in 2000.

The park is named after Comerica Bank, which was founded in Detroit and was based there when the park opened. Comerica's headquarters have since been moved to Dallas, though the bank still retains a large presence in Detroit. The stadium's seating capacity is 41,681. There is a Detroit People Mover station about a block from the stadium (at Grand Circus Park). Comerica Park sits on the original site of the Detroit College of Law.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

Groundbreaking for a new ballpark to replace Tiger Stadium for the Tigers was held on October 29, 1997 and the new stadium was opened to the public in 2000. At the time of construction, the scoreboard in left field was the largest in Major League Baseball.[7] The first game was held on April 11, 2000, against the Seattle Mariners. The new stadium is part of a downtown revitalization plan for the city of Detroit, which included the construction of Ford Field, adjacent to the park. In December 1998, Comerica Bank agreed to pay $66 million over 30 years for the naming rights for the new ballpark. Upon its opening, there was some effort to try to find a nickname for the park, with the abbreviation CoPa suggested by many. It is often referred to simply as Comerica. The first playoff game at Comerica was played on October 6, 2006 against the New York Yankees. It hosted its first World Series later that month.

Tiled Tigers logo outside of the front entrance.

In contrast to Tiger Stadium, which had long been considered one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, Comerica Park is considered to be extremely friendly to pitchers. Except for dead center—420 feet (130 m) versus Tiger Stadium's 440 feet (130 m)—the outfield dimensions were more expansive than those at Tiger Stadium. This led to complaints from players and fans alike, and engendered the sarcastic nickname Comerica National Park.

Although a few public figures—notably radio announcer Ernie Harwell—supported the dimensions, most agreed that the left-field wall, in particular, needed to be brought closer to home plate. Before the 2003 MLB season the club did so, moving the distance from left-center field from 395 to 370 feet (120 to 113 m). This also removed the flagpole from the field of play, originally incorporated as an homage to Tiger Stadium. Two years later, the bullpens were moved from right field to an empty area in left field created when the fence was moved in. In place of the old bullpens in right field, 950 seats were added for a new capacity of 41,070.

Also of note, the current layout of the playing field at Comerica Park means that when a player is at bat, the direction he is facing looks farther to the south than at any other Major League Baseball park.[8]

The stadium also includes many baseball-themed features, including a "Monument Park" in the deep center field stands, complete with statues of former Tigers Ty Cobb, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, and Willie Horton.

First game[edit]

The first game at Comerica Park was held on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 with 39,168 spectators attending, on a cold snowy afternoon. Temperatures during the afternoon ranged from 33.8 to 34 degrees F.[9] Grounds crew had to clear snow off the field from the night before. The Tigers defeated the Seattle Mariners 5–2. The winning pitcher, as in the final game at Tiger Stadium, was Brian Moehler.

Original plans called for an F-16 flyover from nearby Selfridge Air National Guard Base and a parachutist carrying the first pitch ball and the rosin bag. Unfortunately, the weather caused a scratch of both occurrences. Nonetheless, there was a passing of the flag to the flagpole in center in reverse order as there was to take it down from Tiger Stadium. Elden Auker, who had received the flag at Tiger Stadium and given it to Brad Ausmus, passed the flag along a line of players to the flagpole in center. The unfurled 150x300 American flag is the largest in the nation, for the singing of the national anthem.

Features[edit]

Comerica Park panoramic.

Entrance to the ballpark is located across from the Fox Theatre and between two historic downtown churches, St. John Episcopal Church and Central United Methodist Church. Outside of the main entrance to the stadium there is a tiger statue that is approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) in height. There are eight other heroic-sized tiger statues throughout the park, including two prowling on top of the scoreboard in left field. These tigers' eyes light up after a Tigers home run or a victory and the sound of a growling tiger plays as well. The tigers were originally created by sculptor Michael Keropian and fabricated by ShowMotion Inc. in Norwalk, Connecticut. Along the brick walls outside of the park are thirty-three tiger heads with lighted baseballs in their mouths.

At the left-center field concourse there are statues of all of the players whose numbers have been retired by the Tigers (with the exception of Jackie Robinson, whose number was retired in every MLB park in 1997). They include Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Hal Newhouser, Willie Horton, Hank Greenberg. A statue of Ty Cobb is also there, but he does not have a number, as he played baseball before players began to wear numbers on their uniforms. These players' names, along with the names of Hall of Fame players who spent a significant part of their career with the Tigers, are also on a wall in left center field, and to them is added Ernie Harwell, the team's long-time radio announcer, who is also in the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. Harwell has a statue just inside the stadium on the first base side.

The field itself features a distinctive dirt strip between home plate and the pitcher's mound. This strip, sometimes known as the "keyhole", was common in early ballparks, yet very rare in modern facilities (the only other current ballpark to feature this is Chase Field in Phoenix).

In the northeastern corner of the stadium behind the stands from the third base line is a Ferris wheel with twelve cars designed like baseballs. In the northwestern corner of the stadium behind the stands from the first base line is a carousel where guests ride on tigers instead of horses. The flagpole located between center and left fields was originally in play, as was the flag pole in Tiger Stadium. However, the left field wall was moved in front of the pole before the 2003 season. A ball that hits the pole is now ruled a home run. The right field of the stadium features the Pepsi Porch, a picnic deck between the 100 and 200 level seating bowls. Also in right field, and part of the 100 level seating bowl, is an area of seats know as "Kaline's Corner" an homage to Hall of Fame right fielder Al Kaline who once played for the Tigers when the team played in Tiger Stadium.

An LED scoreboard was added to the right-center field wall, and the upper deck fascia for the 2007 season.

The center-field fountain, now known as the Chevrolet Fountain, was originally called the General Motors Fountain when the park was built. This picture was taken in 2009, when the Tigers added the logos for Chrysler and Ford as a show of support for the struggling automotive industry. Directly behind the fountain is the Detroit Athletic Club.

A giant fountain is located behind center field; playing displays during pre- and post-game activities, between innings, and whenever the Tigers score. General Motors sponsored the fountain from 2000 to 2008, and used the area to showcase GM manufactured vehicles as well. While GM dropped its sponsorship for the 2009 season due to financial issues, the GM branding was not removed from the fountain. Instead, signs for Chrysler and Ford were also added to the display, along with the message "The Detroit Tigers Support Our Automakers." In 2010, GM returned to sponsoring the display, now known as the Chevrolet Fountain

A completely redesigned and upgraded left field video display debuted for the 2012 season.[10] The serif "TIGERS" letters were removed, replaced by light-up cursive lettering. The tiger cats were taken down, sent for cleaning and polishing, and replaced in similar spots. The analog clock was removed completely. A high-definition LED display was installed, much larger than the three displays that had existed there previously. The previous scoreboard utilized light bulbs - still a popular scoreboard technology around the time the park opened, though they were quickly aging as LED displays became available and were installed around other Major League ballparks.[11] The scoreboard was also raised 16 feet in an effort to address complaints that the scoreboard was too far left and thus obstructed by the left field upper deck. Along with the replacement scoreboard, all remaining bulb fascia scoreboards were also upgraded to LED.

In 2014, the Detroit Tigers announced a $4M renovation to Comerica Park's Pepsi Porch. This renovation includes the removal of the bleachers that once occupied this space and the addition of new stadium seats. The plan also includes new high top tables, a new bar in the middle of the porch, couches and lounge chairs, as well as a fire pit. The bleachers that once occupied this area will now be moved to the space above The Jungle restaurant and bar.

Other features include:

  • After Friday and Saturday games, there is an on-field fireworks display for the fans to enjoy.
  • Whenever the Tigers score a run, the sound of a tiger growling is played through the public address system and a fountain erupts from the Chevrolet Fountain.
  • In total, there are 3,039 club seats and 102 luxury suites at the ballpark.

Walls of Fame[edit]

See Detroit Tigers#Retired numbers and honorees

Stadium use[edit]

Downtown Detroit skyline as seen from upper deck.

Baseball[edit]

Comerica Park primarily serves as the home ballpark for the Detroit Tigers, who moved to the venue from Tiger Stadium in 2000.

In 2005, Comerica Park hosted the 76th MLB All-Star Game, the first to be played in Detroit since 1971. In the Home Run Derby, held the day before, Bobby Abreu slammed 24 home runs in the first round, breaking the previous record of 15. Abreu won the Derby over Tiger Iván Rodríguez and hit a record 41 homers during the event. In the All-Star Game, the American League won 7–5 with Miguel Tejada winning the game's MVP award.

On October 21, 2006, Comerica Park hosted the first World Series game in the history of the ballpark (Game 1 of the 2006 World Series).

On June 12, 2007, the first no-hitter was thrown at Comerica Park by Justin Verlander. The Tigers won the game 4–0 against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was also the first no-hitter thrown by a Tiger in the city of Detroit since Virgil Trucks accomplished the feat in 1952.

On May 24, 2008, the Tiger statue at the main entrance to the ballpark was dressed with a Detroit Red Wings jersey as the Red Wings were playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals during that time. Detroit defeated Pittsburgh in 6 games for the Stanley Cup. The jersey is usually worn by the Spirit of Detroit, but it was undergoing restoration during that time.[12]

On April 29, 2009 in a game between the Tigers and the New York Yankees a fire alarm went off in the eighth inning. The scoreboard told fans to evacuate the ballpark without using the elevators. Players were about to be called off the field but home plate umpire Brian Runge checked with Tigers' manager Jim Leyland, who called the field security to confirm it was a false alarm. Fans returned to their seats. Yankees reliever Phil Coke, who had retired Curtis Granderson to start the inning, retired the side with no runs allowed. The Tigers then rallied for 5 runs in the ninth but the Yankees hung on to win 8-6.

Comerica Park hosted its second World Series in 2012, with the Tigers getting swept by the San Francisco Giants.

Concerts[edit]

Comerica Park has played host to major recording acts in concert such as Eminem (2005), The Rolling Stones (2005), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2003), Bon Jovi (2003) and Paul McCartney (2011). The first act to play the venue was the Dave Matthews Band on July 5, 2000. In full-stage shows, the stage is to the back of the center field grass with fan seating on the grass up to, but not on, the infield diamond. No seating is allowed on the infield diamond. The center field grass has been covered by special tiles during concerts. Tiger players and former manager Alan Trammell complained about the quality of the playing outfield in 2005 after successive concerts by Eminem and The Rolling Stones; however, concerts at the venue are popular for Detroiters since Comerica is one of the only outdoor concert venues in the city of Detroit, along with Chene Park and the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan, approximately 40 miles (64 km) north of Detroit. On July 27, 2007, Comerica hosted a stop of the 2007 Vans Warped Tour. Since then, Comerica become the annual stop of Detroit for The Warped Tour. Bands perform in the parking lot while merchandise and food vendors set up in the park itself. Comerica hosts the festival Kid Rock with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Robert Randolph and the Family Band performed at Comerica July 17, 2009. Kid Rock added a second night show for the 18th that featured Alice in Chains and Cypress Hill as opening acts. On August 15, 2003, a concert co-headlined by Kiss and Aerosmith and featuring local favorite Ted Nugent and Saliva had been planned for Comerica Park, but was postponed due to the Northeast Blackout of 2003 the day before; the rescheduled concert took place on September 7. Eminem and Jay-Z performed at Comerica Park on September 2, 2010, and a second show on September 3, 2010. On July 24, 2011 the stadium hosted a sellout concert featuring Paul McCartney on his On the Run Tour.[13] On July 28, 2012 Jimmy Buffett and his "Lounging at the Lagoon" tour came to Comerica Park. This concert was one of the first times Jimmy Buffett and his band had played in such a large venue, and outdoors. Lionel Richie was the opening act for the night.

Hockeytown Winter Festival[edit]

On February 9, 2012, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Comerica Park would host many events leading up to the 2013 NHL Winter Classic. These events would have included the NHL alumni game, as well as outdoor games from all levels, including youth, the Ontario Hockey League, and the Great Lakes Invitational. Due to the 2012 NHL lockout, the event was cancelled.[14][15][16] The festival took place in December 2013, when an outdoor rink was set up on the infield of the ballpark for public skating, and hockey games featured the Great Lakes Invitational, play between the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League, and NHL alumni.[17][18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ International Facilities Group - Comerica Park
  3. ^ Detroit Tigers to roar in Comerica Park
  4. ^ Ballparks.com - Comerica Park
  5. ^ Fenech, Anthony (February 14, 2014). "Comerica Park's $4M Renovation to Add 426 Seats, Plus Open-Air Bar to Pepsi Porch". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Lacy, Eric (March 31, 2014). "Detroit Tigers Opening Day: 45,068 Fans in Attendance, a Comerica Park Record for the Opener". Mlive. 
  7. ^ Ballpark Information
  8. ^ Robinson, Craig. "Ballpark Orientation: Direction the Batter is Facing at all MLB Parks". Flip Flop Fly Ball. Bloomsbury. 
  9. ^ Official NOAA weather data for station DTW retrieved via wunderground.com on 4/5/2012.
  10. ^ Comerica scoreboard timelapse MLB.com April 7, 2012
  11. ^ New scoreboard in works at Comerica Park Tigers.com April 7, 2012
  12. ^ Hockeytown Mania in Detroit as Red Wings Battle for the Stanley Cup
  13. ^ "Jay-Z, Eminem to play local ballparks". MLB.com. May 13, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  14. ^ Decision day arrives for NHL's Winter Classic. The Buffalo News. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  15. ^ Strang, Katie, and Craig Custance (November 2, 2012). Source: Winter Classic canceled. ESPN.com. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  16. ^ National Hockey League. "NHL announces cancellation of 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic & SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival", November 2, 2012.
  17. ^ "Red Wings, Maple Leafs to Meet in 2014 NHL Winter Classic". CBC. April 7, 2013. 
  18. ^ "London Knights Fall to Plymourth Whalers in Hockeytown Winter Festival". London Free Press. Dec 30, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fisher, Dale (2003). Building Michigan: A Tribute to Michigan's Construction Industry. Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing. ISBN 1-891143-24-7. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Tiger Stadium
Home of the
Detroit Tigers

2000 – present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Minute Maid Park
Host of the
All-Star Game

2005
Succeeded by
PNC Park