New Name and New Controversies at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull

Navin Field gets a new name, and prepares for new turf.

The Detroit Tigers played at the Tiger Stadium, formerly Navin Field, location at Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit for nearly 100 years. The now nearly-vacant lot still has a playable baseball diamond and fencing. Soon the Detroit Police Athletic League (Detroit PAL) will erect a small athletic facility, including a baseball diamond with artificial turf.

This week Detroit PAL renamed the field the “Willie Horton Field of Dreams” after the longtime Tiger of the 1960s and ’70s.

“Baseball is one of our primary sports, and when you think about character… the first person that’s going to come to mind is Willie Horton,” says Tim Richey, CEO of Detroit PAL. 

Richey says he met with Horton and his family at Horton’s house, and knew naming the field after the retired baseball player was the right choice. Horton attended the naming ceremony this week at the old Tiger Stadium site.

“To be able to honor the history of that site… and then giving kids the chance to play on that site for the next 100 years… is a perfect marriage,” says Richey.

Detroit PAL is an athletic league for youth in Detroit. Richey says PAL had 13,000 kids in several sports last year, with 1,800 adult volunteers from the community. He says PAL is and always will be a neighborhood-based program. 

PAL has received some push-back in recent months for the decision to rip up the grass and install artificial turf. The Navin Field Grounds Crew volunteer group says it prides itself on turning a once blighted, weedy lot into a playable grass field once again. Richey says he appreciates all the hard work and care the group put into the field, and he attended their vintage-baseball farewell game. 

Ultimately, Richey says, the synthetic surface will allow for more play and durability over a long period of time. 

To hear more from Richey’s discussion about the old Tiger Stadium site, click on the audio link above.