The Detroit residents who have been maintaining the baseball diamond at the empty former site of Tiger Stadium — and playing occasional pickup baseball games there — got a big boost last month when Chevrolet offered to underwrite their cleanup efforts … and a big blow yesterday when it was revealed that the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation was rejecting Chevy’s offer because it wants to keep the site vacant for development.
“We’re starting to get major retailers” interested in building downtown, said DEGC president George Jackson, not noting that the Tiger Stadium is the only large vacant downtown parcel available because, well, see for yourself.
In any case, turning down an offer of a free community baseball field — even if temporary — is likely to be yet another huge community relations faux pas for the agency, which has previously refused to meet with U.S. senators to discuss plans for the ballpark site.
“This is a fastball right down the plate, and Detroit looks like it’s swinging at it with a blindfold,” University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Michael Bernacchi told the Detroit News. “There is no way the city of Detroit wins this battle — in terms of public perception. Their long-term vision of the site has always sounded very reasonable and solid — that they need to find a feasible development. But this sounds like such a reasonable short-term solution by a venerable brand, and they missed it. It’s going to dig, gnaw at that perception out there that the city didn’t do all it could.”