Blog: Christopher Schneider

Christopher Schneider is a photographic artist who teaches at Lawrence Tech and OCC. He is also the Program Manager at the Cranbrook Summer Art Institute and a founder of the Hatch arts collective. A native Nebraskan, Chris moved to Detroit in 2001 and has never looked back.

Post No. 3

Oh, imagine what Tiger Stadium could be!

Recently the city of Detroit decided what to do with the old Tiger Stadium — turn it into a parking lot and a little league ball field.

While the ball field idea is cute… what a missed opportunity! Detroit is thinking small at a time when thinking big and optimistically could be winning people over.

Let's think what else our historic stadium could be. I know, the place is old and needs repair, but seriously, how bad can it be? It handled a million visitors just a few years ago. Besides, with the right vision, the expense of rehabbing it would be nothing compared to the draw that such a monumental building could offer. So what should it become?

It could easily be the most unique (fill in the blank) in the country.

Library. YMCA. School. Who in the country wouldn't say, "Detroit is turning Tiger Stadium into a school? That's cool!"

And I have one more suggestion: a community art center.

Look at the example of Hamtramck. Erik Tungate, Community and Economic Developer of Hamtramck, is currently working to turn the town's old police station into an art center. The act alone gets people's attention. It also sends the message that exciting things are happening in Hamtramck. In return, the city gets a new art gallery and an area where creative people can develop their craft. As you look across the nation you can find many examples of cities that have turned themselves around by encouraging the creative class to move in and rejuvenate the place (just look at Cleveland, Houston or NYC neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Chelsea).

Pittsburg turned an old mattress factory into an art center (and called it "Mattress Factory"). Alexandra, Virginia turned an old torpedo factory into an art center (and called it "Torpedo Factory"). Turning Tiger Stadium into an art center would top them all. It would be spoken about for years to come. It would put national attention on the Detroit art scene, too, and do wonders for changing our image. Imagine the sculptures on the field! I venture that it could become one of Detroit's top tourist attractions.

What message is Detroit sending to us by tearing down the stadium? Not a good one. While Tiger Stadium (a positive symbol of the city's history) is torn down, the old train station (a symbol of disappointment and decay) continues to stand. Nothing new, nothing exciting, just a few more acres of Detroit's 16 square miles of unused property.