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Anyone game for fixing up the grandstands?

By Ian Perrotta

Wouldn’t it be great if the city had an outdoor venue that could host concerts, speeches and other community events? Well, it turns out it already does.

At least that’s the contention of Hamtramck resident Scott Collins, who believes the former baseball grandstands at Veterans Memorial Park fits that description. After hearing about the possibility that it might be torn down as a result of the city’s revised Master Plan, the former project development manager and current Planning Commission member decided to take a look at the site himself. What he saw was both startling and inspiring.

“The stadium is actually in really good condition,” he said. “Aside from a few structural repairs and some cosmetic work, there really isn’t too much wrong with it. It could easily be fixed up and put to use.”

To do that, Collins is currently working with the Hamtramck Community Initiative on an effort to restore the grandstands. Armed with a background in architecture, he envisions a future where the site is a destination spot for both locals and outsiders alike. But in order to do so, he’ll need some help.

This Saturday (May 22) at 2 p.m. at the Weed and Seed office, located at 12101 Jos. Campau, there will be an informational meeting to discuss the project and organize the logistics of the undertaking. During the meeting, an overview of the project will be laid out and committees will be formed to help take the concept from idea to reality.

Though the project is still in its infancy and has yet to go through any official channels, when asked about it City Manager Bill Cooper expressed an interest in seeing it come to fruition. He said that provided a realistic plan was presented to the city and the necessary funds were raised, the project has potential.

“If there’s a group that can come up with a way to do it and pay for it, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to the idea of fixing up the stadium,” he said.

So far, the project has generated some buzz throughout the community and has even received pledges of financial support. Habitat for Hamtramck, a now defunct non-profit that had a mission of redeveloping the area, has stepped up to the plate and agreed to donate the remaining money in its bank account – over $1,600 – to the project.

The grandstands were built from October 1929 to May 1930 by John Roesink, a clothing store proprietor who also owned the Detroit Stars, a Negro Baseball League team. The official opening-day game was played on May 11, 1930, when the Detroit Stars defeated the Cuban Stars 7-4. Detroit’s legendary Tiger, Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch.

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