Teams: Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park

Detroit Tigers
Major League
Final Score

TL;DR?  Here’s the long-form piece in a nutshell:

My take on Detroit’s ballpark is the site’s most controversial (in its prime, I had it as high as #3), one of the few times where I sharply deviate from the consensus.

Suffering by comparison to the venerated Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park generally hasn’t received the praise of other 21st century ballparks.  Comerica is also hindered by its association with the poverty of Downtown Detroit and sightline complaints, both of which are misunderstood or overblown.  Most ballpark aficionados rank Comerica in the middle of the pack.

Assessing Comerica on its own merits in the context of its post-1990 peers and not to the all-time great Tiger Stadium, I think it’s by far the most underrated active ballpark in MLB.  It could shoot up to top-5 status again with some, admittedly, much needed renovations.

A downtown locale with surrounding bars and restaurants? Check. Marvelously expansive exterior monuments?  Check.  Understated interior aesthetics with the best ballpark skyline views outside of Pittsburgh and St. Louis?  Check.  The lowest upper deck of the newer parks outside of Pittsburgh?  Check.  Wide, open concourses with a panoply of accessible destination restaurants, taprooms, beer halls, and lounges?  Check and Check.  Historical memorabilia and statues adeptly interwoven throughout the concourses, but with frivolous kids-friendly attractions like the Ferris Wheel and Carousel relegated to the outskirts.  Check and Check.

1) Decent downtown locale, 2) Gorgeous aesthetics inside and out, 3) Supremely functional, and 4) Filled with fan-friendly amenities.  Very well rounded.

Of course, a ballpark is more than the sum of its parts, and the through line creating that necessary “wow factor” is just how elaborately Comerica represents its tenant.

Tiger sculptures, gargoyles, and claw marks outside.  View of Downtown Detroit and the Wall of Fame from anywhere inside.  A team “walking museum” and player statues throughout the concourses.  Tigers embroidered on the doors; Tiger sculptures above the bars.  Close your eyes, step almost anywhere in or outside the ballpark, open them, and you’ll see something that screams “Detroit!” or “Detroit Tigers!”

Strong sense of place here, as everything shrewdly incorporates elements of the city and the franchise.

Comerica Park is not flawless, of course.  The concession stand food needs improvement.  The incline of the lower bowl is too gentle, but that’s a common problem of ballparks of this era, making it odd to see Comerica always singled out in this respect.  Many of the interior spaces badly need a renovation, and renovations are needed in general, hence my downgrade.  It is beginning to really show its age.  And day games are no fun in certain spots with the blinding sun, a function of Comerica’s south-ish orientation.

But overall, it still seems like fans who are inclined to opine on their Comerica Park experiences downplay its many assets and exaggerate its few shortcomings.  They probably just miss Tiger Stadium.  Fair enough!