After years of debate about what to do with the former Detroit Tigers Stadium site, city youth will be able to play soccer, football and baseball at the historic Corktown location starting in spring 2017.
Work is set begin in April for a new youth sports facility and headquarters for the Detroit Police Athletic League, or PAL.
“This will be a field of dreams that will inspire kids for generations to come,” former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin said Tuesday.
Levin secured $3 million in federal funds for the site nearly seven years ago, when it was unclear if the land could be preserved for athletics. Levin was among those who attended Tuesday a VIP-filled press conference, where officials said $12 million had been raised for the plan to move forward.
“The relationship between PAL and the field is a natural,” Levin said.
The headquarters of PAL, which serves 12,000 youths a year, also will be on the 91/2-acre site. A corporate sponsor is still being sought.
The only controversy that remains – at least for some – is replacing the natural grass with artificial turf. At Tuesday’s press conference, someone in the crowd accused PAL leaders of going back on their word to preserve the grass field, which remains in great shape due to a group of volunteers.
PAL officials contend artificial turf ensures the field can be used during any type of weather and for years of activity.
The PAL-driven plan is one part of the development for the Corktown site at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The other part, called The Corner, includes retail and housing across Trumbull from the former stadium. There were no updates on that plan Tuesday, though the developer has said recently that project remains on track.
PAL officials said on Tuesday that $12 million had been raised from foundations, including Skillman, Kresge and Ralph W. Wilson, companies and individuals.
Another part of the financing includes a $2.5 million tax credit that was put together by Bank of America and Cinnaire (formerly Great Lakes Capital Fund).
The capital cost of the redevelopment is $11 million and the long-term sustainability of the project is $4.4 million, for a total of $15.4 million that PAL intends to raise. The $12 million secured so far ensures the construction of the project, officials said.
It’s been a passionate and sometimes ugly public debate of what to do with the Corktown site ever since the Detroit Tigers moved to Comerica Park for the 2000 season.
Preservationists fought hard to keep the stadium. But city officials maintained that never made financial sense. The stadium started to be demolished in 2008.
Detroit PAL is a nonprofit organization established in 1969 to help children through athletic, academic and leadership development programs.