Name: Comerica Park
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Opened: 11 April 2000
Architect: HOK Sport (now Populous)
Cost: $300 Million
Capacity: 40,120 (original)
Surface: Kentucky Bluegrass
Championships: Hosted 2006, 2012 World Series
The term "underrated" is almost as thrown around in sports these days as "overrated". Sports fans love to offer up their "sleeper pick" for best-this or most-likely that, and, more often than not, this "unappreciated gem" is anything but. But in the case of Comerica Park, anyone who has identified this as one of the best parks in baseball has a legitimate sleeper pick.
Unheralded at its opening -- perhaps getting overshadowed by all of the other new parks unveiled during the second golden age of ballpark architecture: T-Mobile Park/Safeco Field, Minute Maid/Enron Field, Oracle Park/Pac Bell Park/AT&T Park, Miller Park, and PNC Park all opened within a year or so of Comerica -- it also suffered the inevitable comparisons to Old Tiger Stadium, a classic ballpark venerated almost to the level of Fenway and Wrigley.
(Most serious ballpark fans know how close both Fenway and Wrigley came to being outright replaced, as well. The Red Sox planned a several-hundred-million-dollar "New Fenway" to be built adjacent to the old park and the Cubs were seriously looking at a new state-of-the-art ballpark in the Chicago suburbs to replace what was, in the early 2000s, a fairly dilapidated old place that -- more than once -- dropped large chunks of concrete from the upper deck into the seating bowl below.)
In Detroit's case, the better call was a replacement rather than a renovation, and the anger this caused Tigers fans is felt to this day. Which is a shame, as their love of the old place unfortunately blinds them to the true gem they have now.
With one of the better downtown views in major-league baseball (why do minor league parks routinely get this better?), all of the amenities, great sightlines, and a veritable Detroit Tigers/Tiger Stadium museum throughout the park, it's fair to say Comerica Park offers everything a Tigers fan should want.
The cavernous outfield tends to make this a pitchers park, although the walls have been moved in a couple of times since opening. (The flagpole in left-center was originally in play, a tip of the cap to Old Tiger Stadium, which did likewise.)
Cool trivia: this is the only remaining MLB ballpark with a dirt path between the pitchers mound and home plate, something that was ubiquitous in the early days of the game.
It's hosted two World Series, and a Justin Verlander no-hitter (June 12, 2007).
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