Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)
Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.
So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…
…Detroit, Michigan. The Motor City!
I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time. But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect. As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd. It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it. I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.
That didn’t seem right.
When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished. It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.
Yikes. Detroit was not looking good.
The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation. Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.
As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better. But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye. Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:
The parking lot was a disaster. Huge pot holes. I mean huge. Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into. That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one. As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time: “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”
I broke into laughter. It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.
So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.
But you know what? It was all worth it. Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”
Comerica Park is AMAZING! I loved it. I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point. All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures. And this entry is going to have a ton of them.
We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place. We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):
The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park. After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):
Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw. He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:
This gate is pure awesomeness. It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos. I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.
This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall. The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area. On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:
Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:
Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.
All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:
Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design. It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail. They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium. In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc. But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park. If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans. They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.
After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium. There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field. We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:
Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:
In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance. Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.
Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:
The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.
After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot. That street provides a clear view into the ballpark. We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:
These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.
Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles. While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…
…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park. As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures. And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.
When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.
- No batting practice;
- Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
- Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.
As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up. We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:
It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch. After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate. Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet. He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound. At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:
A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.
With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game. But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.
We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers. It was pointless to stay there. Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line. But it was packed by the time we got there. So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.
This was our view from the first row of section 121:
And the move worked out. As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line. Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.
Success! A baseball from Comerica Park:
It was officially time to explore!
Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:
Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side. It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:
Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture. Cool, eh?
We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point. Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…
…in search for the carousel that I had heard about. After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:
You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.
Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge. So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter. So we continued on our
We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:
Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:
Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past. I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years. So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s. Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor. You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.” The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well. Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.
Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…
…and another from section 210:
While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):
Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field. Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:
And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):
When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:
Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars. We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water. But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.
On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:
Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based? While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:
Look at that! It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars. Awesome. These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.
While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water. Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:
Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story: “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”
Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.
First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):
Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:
Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:
Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…
…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium. Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium. From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned. I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place. Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.
Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:
Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl. Outstanding!
When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head. He said it showed that I was really a baseball player. I thought that was cool. Thanks, usher guy!
Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:
I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture. Cool.
Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:
The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…
…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:
It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…). Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.
After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides. So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel. In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards. It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.
First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:
Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:
And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:
Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB): (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle. More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game. The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards. It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.
Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:
We were really lucky. There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel. But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.
Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel). But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay). So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:
Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again. Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):
We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):
On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:
When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel. We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side. We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line. By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!
I told Tim we would have to come back later. That line was going to take forever.
So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144. On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:
This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):
There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:
Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:
See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence? They’re watching free baseball! The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game. I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.
Here is a look down into the bullpens:
The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.
Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:
It was ice cream time. We grabbed some helmets…
…and found some ice cream seats in our section.
Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:
The scoreboard has three screens. A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side. Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen. The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages. I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen. Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.
Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):
Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:
It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle. Pretty cool, idea.
I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:
After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot. Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle. We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…
…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game. It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…
…for Magglio Ordonez. Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…
…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers. (Note: right as I was about to get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).
With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel. The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good. We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:
All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape! Super V! They were actually pretty cool. Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.
Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:
The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:
The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool. The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.
By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth. We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…
…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).
We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:
As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:
It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:
My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box. At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable. Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…
…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.
We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:
It is always great to get an umpire baseball. And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.
Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!
The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not. It was Kids Run The Bases day! Hooray!
On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:
And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:
It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…
…and down under the RF seats. Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.
The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases. Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience. The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.
We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…
…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).
Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…
…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is. And it wasn’t just chalk foul line. The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground. These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.
Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:
Then we approached the first base area. There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”
When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?” She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”
So I followed Tim out toward first base…
…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:
As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…
…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:
We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…
…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!
SAFE! (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).
As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B). But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you! I don’t see you!”
So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…
…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.
Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.
On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:
Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field. Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background. A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:
The Tigers staff are cool folks.
Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!
Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?” With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!” The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball. Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”
I’m serious. Comerica Park is awesome! Well, done Tigers!
We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot. When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left. We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park. And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:
In the famous word of the Terminator: “[We’ll] be back!”
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))|
|48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)|
|8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]|
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|