Comerica Park Review
Review of Comerica Park Rating: 4.5
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Don't be fooled by dire reports about Detroit; Comerica Park is awesome
- Statues, tigers and fountain among Comerica's highlights
Based on what you see and read about the city of Detroit in the media, you might be hesitant to add this Midwest stop to your baseball road trip itinerary. But don’t be so quick to cast off the Motor City. Sure, the city has its share of problems, but provided you stick to the right areas, you’ll be safe and will have a blast in Detroit. The city has a ton of interesting things to do, but for baseball fans, the center of your road trip is Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. From statues to amusement park rides to outstanding views of the city, Comerica Park has it all for any baseball fan.
After inhabiting Tiger Stadium from 1912 to 1999, the Tigers moved into Comerica Park for the 2000 season. And while Tiger Stadium wasn’t without its charms, Comerica Park’s modern amenities and nod to the past make for a great stop on any baseball road trip. First, the basics: The park’s seating capacity in its inaugural season was 40,120, but subsequent upgrades have boosted the capacity to 41,255. The field’s pitcher-friendly measurements are 345 feet to left, 370 feet to left-center, 420 feet to center, 365 feet to right-center and 330 feet to right.
Get to Comerica Park good and early; from the time the gates open 95 minutes before first pitch up until you take your seat in time for the National Anthem, you’ve got a wealth of neat sights to check out. Be sure to take a stroll to the standing room area on the left field side of the batter’s eye. Here, you can’t help but stop to check out Comerica Park’s renowned group of statues. The six statues honor the former Tigers whose names/numbers have been retired by the team – Ty Cobb, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and Willie Horton. On the brick facing below the statues and adjacent to the left field seats, you’ll see the names and numbers of the six players. (Cobb doesn’t have a number above his name because players didn’t wear numbers during his playing days.) If you’re interested in the team’s history, be sure to check out another key attraction – the team’s second wall of fame area in right-center field, situated to the side of the right-field bleachers. The wall features the names of Harry Heilmann, Hughie Jennings, Mickey Cochrane, Ernie Harwell, Heinie Manush, Sam Crawford and George Kell.
And speaking of history, walking through the concourses of Comerica Park gives you a thorough history lesson. The team has vast displays for each decade of Tigers baseball and while many teams have displays honoring their history, this is one of the most thorough you’ll see. The field itself has a nod to baseball’s past; look for the strip of dirt that runs between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Common in old parks, this “keyhole” is featured only in two MLB parks – Detroit and Arizona.
If something a little more interactive is up your alley, be sure to stop by the Big Cat Court, located on the lower level of the first base side. One of the hottest spots in the ballpark to visit, the Big Cat Court (behind Section 119) is known for its tiger-themed carousel, but it also boasts a long list of concession stands. This area is truly shaped like a court; it’s round, with the carousel in the center and concession stands lining the perimeter. The carousel includes 30 hand-painted tigers and a pair of chariots and even if you’re not visiting Comerica with kids, be sure to stop by. Riding the carousel costs just $2, but kids under 14 can ride for free on Sundays.
You can’t mention the Big Cat Court and the carousel without noting the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel (behind Section 132), too. The latter isn’t in the same location as the carousel – the Ferris wheel is on the opposite side of the park, on the lower level between home and third base. The Ferris wheel has 12 baseball-shaped cars, reaches 50 feet in the air and costs just $2 to ride. Like the carousel, kids can ride for free on Sundays.
Although the carousel and Ferris wheel will be the big hits when visiting Comerica Park with your kids, don’t forget to check out the batting cage and speed pitch area, located near Section 106. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, kids under 14 years old can run the bases after the game. Finally, if you’re a first-time visitor, stop by Guest Services (sections 130, 210 or 330) to ask for a free certificate commemorating your first visit.
If you need to snag some Tigers swag before first pitch, you won’t have to look far to find one of Comerica Park’s team shops. The flagship store, The D Shop, is down the first base line next to the Big Cat Court. In addition to selling a seemingly endless list of products with the old English “D,” the shops boast an absolutely incredible selection of autographed and game-used memorabilia. Whether you’re looking for a signed or game-used ball, bat, base, cleats, hat or other gear, you’ll likely be able to find it here.
Regardless of where you choose to sit, keep an eye on the giant tiger statues atop the video board in left field once the game begins. When Detroit scores a run, the tigers’ eyes light up, which is especially impressive once the sun is down. During home runs, shift your attention to the Chevrolet Fountain in center field. While some parks shoot off fireworks after a home run, Comerica provides a unique twist – a fireworks-like water display, complete with lights, is sure to catch your eye.
Equally impressive is the video board. Though you’re likely here for the game itself, keeping an eye on the video board will keep you entertained and is sure to teach you a few things, too. The Tigers do an excellent job of going beyond the bare bones – for example, the board will often show situational stats for hitters depending on who’s on the mound.