By Charles Sercombe
The price tag is in for how much it will cost to renovate the historic Hamtramck Stadium.
Prepare for a sticker shock. The cost is $18.9 million.
But that total covers an exhaustive wish list of improvements at the stadium site. The renovations are broken up into three “phases,” according to a study performed for the city by SmithGroup JJR.
The plan was unveiled a few weeks ago at a city council meeting. Renovations would include creating not only a baseball field, but also one for softball, cricket and soccer.
The grandstands and its roof would have to be replaced, as well as some of the structural support. That part of the plan, which is phase one, would cost a little over $4 million.
The overall plan also calls for constructing a “community pavilion” and a “multi-purpose plaza.”
“This stadium will be the jewel of Hamtramck,” said a spokesman for SmithGroup.
Not all of the phases would have to be pursued. The stadium, located in Veterans Park, has been deemed historical because it is one of only a few standing stadiums that served the Negro National Baseball League back in the 1930s.
Gary Gillette, the president of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, said he initially thought the cost to fix the dilapidated stadium would only be a “few million dollars.”
“Now we know how to do it, and the price for it,” he said.
City Councilmember Ian Perrotta, who co-founded the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, praised the proposal and was confident private foundation funding will come through to pay for the renovation.
City officials have teamed up with school officials to seek a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to renovate the stadium. The Foundation’s goal is to promote programs that get kids more physically active.
It is hoped that the Foundation will give the city and schools a multi-million dollar grant that could be used to renovate the stadium.
The city already won a federal $50,000 grant to fund the renovation study.
For years the grandstands have been an eyesore, falling apart and being torn up by vandals. All that while city and school officials debated what to do with it: tear it down or build it back up.
Several years ago, something was discovered about the stadium’s role in the Negro Baseball League. The Detroit Stars used it as their home field.
Back in the 1930s, when African-Americans were barred from playing in major league baseball teams, legends like Satchel Paige and Turkey Stearns played here, in their own league.
That was all part of America’s shameful past when segregation was protected by law.
Hamtramck’s stadium is now one of only five surviving stadiums that served the Negro League.
July 20, 2018