Detroit PAL unveils ‘The Corner Ballpark’ on Saturday

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Baseball’s back at The Corner.

After nearly two decades of grandiose plans that fizzled, one after another, the Tiger Stadium redevelopment project officially opens to the public Saturday.

At The Corner of Michigan and Trumbull is the Detroit Police Athletic League’s sparkling, new $21-million headquarters, anchored by a pristine baseball diamond that, yes, has artificial turf — but otherwise sticks mostly to the traditions of Tiger Stadium, including the same outfield dimensions and even the same flag pole, in the field of play, in center field.

PAL, home to thousands of Detroit youth, will kick off the party at The Corner Ballpark at 9 a.m., with a parade of children walking onto the Willie Horton Field of Dreams for the first time.

The rest of Saturday’s schedule includes:

10 a.m: A litany of VIP speakers, headlined by PAL CEO Tim Richey, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Police Chief James Craig and former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

11:30 a.m.: The introduction of 16 Metro Detroit children who were finalists in the The Detroit News/Detroit PAL First Pitch essay contest, as well as the announcement of the eight winners who will get to throw out a ceremonial “first pitch.” Each winner also will receive a commemorative, personalized brick to be placed at The Corner Ballpark’s entrance for years to come.

1 p.m.: The first baseball game, between Detroit King and West Bloomfield.

3 p.m.: The second baseball game, between Detroit Western and Saline.

There’s another public event Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when Corktown business and restaurants will showcase their menus on the concourse.

PAL also will be hosting a watch party on Tigers Opening Day, next Thursday.

The Tigers last played at Tiger Stadium in 1999, before moving to Comerica Park at the start of the 2000 season. The stadium finally was demolished in 2009. PAL was awarded the site in 2015 and broke ground in the spring of 2016, with the help of dozens of donors, big and small. Among the top donors are Adient (presenting sponsor), the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, the Dresner Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, DTE Energry, Kars Nuts and Meijer.

The stadium features grandstands to seat thousands as well as a banquet center, and there are plans for a future Detroit Hall of Heroes.