Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kitchy Komerica

As a worshipper at the alter that was Tiger Stadium, I boycotted Comerica Park for a couple of years after it opened. Once I gave in to the inevitable and got over my mad, I was simply too busy with work and kids and stuff to make the drive up to Detroit to check out the new digs. I still haven't made it there, though I was hoping to get a shot before this season was out.

SpliceToday's Andrew Sargus Klein, however, is making me reassess:

I’ve experienced over half a dozen ballparks—not an astounding amount, I realize—and Comerica is, without a doubt, the worst example of a baseball stadium I have ever seen.

Any sports stadium has two main motifs from which to draw a visual narrative: the sport itself and the team name. In the case of Comerica, we have baseball and tigers. The resulting visual assault is most similar to a balls-out amusement park. Massive, massive baseball bats and tigers flank the main entrance; along the curving sides there are tiger heads gripping baseballs in their mouth (a la pigs with apples) and wavy claw marks. Altogether the stadium has all the subtlety of a foul ball to the forehead. It is kitsch—offensively ugly kitsch . . .

. . . That Detroit is suffering commercially, and the stadium is over the top commercial, is the point. The intentions, I'm sure, are benevolent but the result borders on mocking.

As the years have gone on, I've heard fewer and fewer complaints about Comerica, but the overly-busy, kitschlike nature of the place identified by Klein were mentioned a lot circa 2000-2001. Maybe people have just gotten used to it, or maybe no one cares about this stuff other than Klein and me. And make no mistake, Klein's central premise -- that a ballpark should strive to reflect the city in which it sits -- is a tall order in the case of Comerica, because there is so much wrong with the city in which it sits.

But they still should have made the effort. Detroit has had so much of its rich, rich history ripped away from it over the past 20-30 years. It's a shame to see that extend to the ballpark as well.


Ken Dynamo said...

that website should be shown to every major city council as a strong impetus to diversify local economies.

doesnt looks like american auto, or detroit, will be having a sustained renaissance anytime soon, which is a shame.

Dre said...

I don't mind Comerica if you take it for what it is. Its a new age ballpark with all the bells and whistles and they've really tried to appeal to the whole family, not just the baseball fan. Sure, as diehards, we prefer the old nostalgic feel of Tiger Stadium but that's because we go solely for the game that we and our fathers have loved since childhood. I'll never forget my memories growing up going to Tiger Stadium.

All nice memories aside, I don't mind Comerica at all. All the sightlines are great, its a bit more wide open so the crowds in the concourse don't feel as dense, and its still the greatest game on Earth played in between the lines in front of you. 2005 All Star Game was tremendous to experience there as well.

JRJ said...

Comerica was more unique when they had the deep outfield and flagpole in play. I think it lost something when they moved the fences in to cater to free agent sluggers.
Great article.

kj said...

In terms of recognizing the team's history, I think Comerica does a great job--with the statues of the five great Tigers in left field and the historical exhibits around the concourse.

Jake said...

I have never agreed with a commenter more than I do with dre.

I just go for the baseball, but the kids love the amusement-park feel. Also, the 2005 AS game WAS awesome. Very well done by Detroit and MLB.

Jason said...

Ya know, this is a bunch of bullsh*t. The guy goes to six ballparks, and he's an expert? I loved Tiger Stadium, and had lots of fond memories there. But Comerica is a pretty damn nice park. The suites are fantastic, the site lines are great, the concourse is wide and inviting, and it's packed every night.

There is one thing I have learned in the last few months here in the D -- everyone on the outside is an expert on everything. American cars suck, Detroit sucks, etc. Guess what? This country goes as Detroit know how many suppliers, and suppliers of suppliers, Detroit keeps in business?

Pick another town to hate on. I'm sick and effing tired of it.

Richard Dansky said...

That statue really looks like it should be throwing the goat and singing along with "Crazy Train".

Josh said...

It's hard to imagine there's a new ballpark worse than the Nationals'.