On Friday I detailed my trip to old Tiger Stadium and mentioned that I was heading off to Comerica Park. And there I went, for all three games of the Tigers-Indians series. The baseball speaks for itself — RIP Indians and my condolences Indians fans — so let’s talk about the park.
I really, really like Comerica. It’s a great place to see a game. It was packed all three days and it’s an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd. The design is excellent. Some of the new-era ballparks are something of a pastiche. This design feature here, that design feature there and some quirkiness sprinkled around all willy-nilly. That is not the case at all with Comerica. It feels like a much more coherent kind of design. Even the features that got a lot of derisive attention back when it first opened — the ferris wheel and carousel — are well-integrated to the design of the place and are not at all obtrusive or superfluous.
The outside of the place is pretty swell too. A lot of people write and talk about the giant tiger statue and the million tiger heads carved in the side, but I think the most striking aspect of the park is how it doesn’t loom over the surrounding area like a lot of ballparks do. From Woodward Avenue it seems almost quaint, size-wize, thanks in part to how deep down the field of play is apparently dug from street level. Also thanks to the fact that Ford Field — the Lions stadium — is right next door and is, of course, gigantic. Anyway, Detroit obviously has some issues with downtown development, but if ever the day comes when the place is hopping again, Comerica would fit in, in terms of scale, not unlike a lot of the old timey downtown parks of yore.
I had pretty sweet seats for two of the three games. Tiger Den seats on Friday, which are equivalent to club seats at other ballparks. Comfy chairs, waiter service and that sort of thing. I could get used to that. On Sunday we sat in the Terrace section along the right field line, which is in the upper reaches of the lower deck, just under the overhang. Those were swell as well, with the added bonus of being in the shade on a hot sunny day. On Saturday I sat with a group down by the left field corner. Despite it being far away, they were still excellent seats which somehow seemed closer in to the action than comparable seats at other ballparks. Maybe it’s just a good sight lines thing.
The concourses were really congested. I guess that’s part of the deal when you get more than 40,000 people in the joint all three games. Still, I’d like to see what it’s like when it’s a little less hectic. There are these really cool kiosks detailing decade-by-decade Tigers history. I would have liked to spend more time checking them out but the crowds make it kind of difficult.
Beer was kind of frustrating. There is great beer there — Bell’s and Atwater brewery have kiosks and/or counters — but they’re relegated to the right field concourse. If you want beer without a walk, you have your choice of Miller Lite, Miller Lite or Miller Lite every ten feet, with some Labatt’s thrown in for, um, diversity. Make the walk to right field if you want good beer.
Food: again, there is good stuff to be had — the food court between home and third place had a lot of options — but it’s mostly your standard hot dogs and pizza kind of place. Pfun Pfact: the Little Caesar’s $5 Hot and Ready pizza they advertise all over the park is $18 in Comerica Park. It’s way easier to justify eating that stuff for $5 than it is for $18.
Anyway: for a guy who was prepared to find fault with Comerica Park due to his irrational love of old Tiger Stadium, no real fault could be found. It’s a great place to see a game. As far as the new era parks go, I’d place it a notch below AT&T Park (it’s impossible to top that setting) but above Camden Yards and Progressive Field, both of which I really, really love.
If you’re anywhere close to Detroit, I highly recommend a visit.
UPDATE: Forgot two things:
1. Yesterday I was all fancy and had brunch in the Tiger Club before the game, sitting along the window overlooking the field. I’m pretty sure that drinking champagne while eating tasty omelettes, prime rib and the like disqualifies me from ever talking about baseball purism again; but
2. I had some karma to burn because on Friday night I left the park and bought a t-shirt from a dude in the street that says “Detroit Fu**in’ Michigan” on it, which felt like the right thing to do. No, I have no idea where I’m gonna wear the thing. I’m guessing the kids’ parent teacher conferences would be a good place, but beyond that I’m blanking.