Historic Negro League site Hamtramck Stadium to get $500,000 national grant for a facelift

A historical site right in the heart of Hamtramck is about to get some much needed tender loving care.

"Hamtramck Stadium is really important because it gave opportunity for African-American professionals to play the game of major league baseball and for African-American consumers to watch that game," said historian Ken Coleman. 

Built in 1930, this 90-year-old ballpark is just one of five former Negro League ballparks still standing and now thanks to a National Park Service grant, the stadium will receive a nearly $500,000 facelift which was approved by the Wayne County Commission on Thursday. 

"We can fully restore the grandeur that Hamtramck Stadium once was, in the 1930s," said Coleman.

The money will go to replace and repair structures, some that are even the originals like the bleachers  from when the ballpark originally opened.

"The integrity of the brick and of the office area of the stadium, is very much intact and very much original," Coleman said. 

Back in the 1930s, African-Americans could not play in the Major League Baseball or at Briggs Stadium which would become Tiger Stadium. So The Detroit Stars were born.

The Stars was a Negro Leagues team that would often play at Hamtramck Stadium.

"It saw the likes of Satchel Paige, Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson played for Detroit Stars," Coleman said. "They're all in Major League Baseball Hall of Fame today." 

After the stadium gets its facelift, county leaders hope more young people will catch baseball fever.

"Within the next couple of years, high school teams will be able to play here, grade school children can play here through the Police Athletic League," Coleman said.

The stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012 and Coleman is thankful the grant money will get the rehab work it rightfully deserves. 

"We've got a jewel here and metro Detroit needs to wrap its arms around it," Coleman said.