Miller Park: Done Right, In So Many Ways...
The roof leaked.
The bogies blew.
The pivot bearings lasted but a fraction of their advertised shelf life.
And, the ballpark where the game would always go on had to ashcan a contest in it's maiden season when half of the stadium lost power (I was there that night, with friends from Florida. They were gracious, but it took a few hours and a couple of cocktails for my embarrassment to abate).
Yes, Miller Park had it's foibles, but by and large, it's an architectural and marketing success. Many still belabor the point about it NOT being downtown, but I for one love the location and the convenience that comes with having the park where it is.
And, the folks who built it had the wisdom to dispose of it's predecessor swiftly. Such is not the case in Detroit where, seven years after it's final game, Tiger Stadium still stands. I drove by it in summers gone by while taking my son to Comerica Park (one of our annual baseball trips) and was struck by the fact that it not only was still there, but that nothing was being done with it. What, then, was the point of leaving it there? To twist in the wind? To become just another monument to the civic decay that surrounds it (the surroundings sucked even back in the day but the aura of Tiger Stadium made it worth the trip)?
Among those trying to turn the remains into something is legendary Detroit broadcaster Ernie Harwell--read more about the Stadium, it's decay and Harwell's efforts here.
Where County Stadium once stood, there is now Helfaer Field. It gives little league kids a change to play in the shadow of Miller Park, and serves as a poignant tribute to the heroes who once played on the very spot. Is there anyone over the age of 40 who hasn't hunted down the County Stadium home plate marker at Helfaer, grabbed an imaginary bat and assumed the stance? The White Sox did the same thing in commemoration of the original Comiskey, but that dish sits in the middle of a parking lot--assume any stances at your own risk.
Miller Park is a point of civic pride and it's adding to it's allure with each meaningful September game this season. Enjoy it's charms and comforts if you're lucky enough to catch a game there between now and the end of the regular season. And, give a nod toward Helfaer Field on your way in--to remember County Stadium, and to give the Brewers an atta-boy for the way they did the old grey hulk proud in it's dying days.