One day after blaming baseball lovers for there being no development at the site of Tiger Stadium, Detroit economic development chief George Jackson declared that he’s still willing to build something there, but that preservationists need to compromise, or else nothing will happen. Which is still pretty much blaming baseball lovers, but in slightly sweeter tones:
George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., called a news conference to urge members of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy to be more flexible in their purported requirement that future development include a baseball park with the exact dimensions as the razed stadium’s — including the full 440 feet that existed between home plate and the original center field wall…
“We’ll be willing to talk, but we need them to compromise with us,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday. “We don’t think you can do this without compromise.”
The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy hasn’t responded to Jackson’s latest comments yet, though Conservancy president Thomas Linn said Tuesday night that his group was always willing to compromise: “It was our preference to preserve more of the ball field, but I don’t think it was our preference to say, ‘No, no, never.’” Linn also told a local news station yesterday, “We’ve always been open, always been reasonable. I’m open to anything — I’d like to use the money.”
If this all seems like a weird war of words to you, it’s a weird situation all around: The only reason Jackson needs the permission of the non-profit Conservancy to go ahead with his project — which would involve a row of stores plus a new office building for a parade float company — is that the Conservancy controls a $3.8 million federal earmark that it was awarded initially to preserve part of the stadium itself, but which it now can use for pretty much whatever it wants at the site. And Jackson wants the money to build his buildings in what was once the Tiger Stadium outfield, and is undoubtedly annoyed that he has to get the approval of a non-profit group that he hates in order to use their money. So: FIGHT!!!
You can take a look at some aerial footage of the site here, where the field, currently maintained by volunteers, looks, frankly, gorgeous. If you want details of exactly where Jackson wants the buildings to go, you’ll have to ask Jackson; it’d be nice if one of the local newspapers had done so, but apparently you don’t bring a FOIL request to a knife fight.