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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2000-05-30

Tigers' New Home
By Alan Lessig, The Detroit News

Photo by Alan Lessig/The Detroit News

Photo by Alan Lessig/The Detroit News
(Second in a Sports Shooter series on new baseball stadiums.)

Last September, the final pitch was thrown in Tiger Stadium, ending over 100-years of baseball on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Trumble. This April the 1st pitch was thrown in the Detroit Tigers new home, Comerica Park. The park sits near the center of downtown, along Woodward Ave, with a stunning view of the Detroit skyline behind the outfield.

Comerica Park, or "The Copa" as some are calling it, is a beautiful new stadium that tries to capture a blend of traditional looking ballpark with modern amenities. For photographers, The Copa is an easy ballpark to work in with several different shooting positions available and on-site darkroom facilities. Having darkrooms and transmitting areas is a huge improvement from Tiger Stadium where no darkrooms were available and finding a space to transmit was a major pain since the press box was off limits to photographers.

Photographer/TV wells were built into the field level of The Copa, with one on each end of both dugouts. There is room for only 1-2 photographers in the two photo wells closest to homeplate due to TV cameras being placed there. The two outside wells by 1st and 3rd base are larger and can accommodate 4-5 photographers each, standing on a platform behind and above the TV cameras that occupy the front part of each well.

Because the platform puts photographs higher than the TV cameras, The Tigers have asked that all photographers stand with their backs to the photo-well wall so to not block the view of fans. One photographer got a plastic bottle tossed at his head by a fan that didn't like his head blocking his view when he stood on the front of the platform. I would recommend a 300-400 mm lens for infield action. You will need some long glass, like a 600 mm for the outfield, since The Copa has the fences placed about as far as any ballpark in the country.

There are also two positions by the TV cameras upstairs in the upper deck by 1st and 3rd base. Room for 1-2 shooters max. Basic overhead views of field.

Lighting for night games is pretty good: ISO 800 500 f2.8.

I would strongly suggest arriving early to mark a spot before each game. Arriving early gives you time to enjoy the press meal ($6.00) in the press box located on the suite level. I hear the food is pretty good! Also, there is only one toilet in the press box bathroom so there can be a long line.

To get in the stadium, press parking is in lot 3 on the North side of The Copa off of Montcalm. The press entrance is also on the north side right by press parking. The elevator can take you to the press box or field level.

You can enter/exit the field behind homeplate before/after game or between innings. A hallway under the stands leads to the darkroom facilities under the stands in right field.

There are plenty of phone lines for transmitting there, and sinks for anyone processing film. You can also find phone lines in an auxiliary pressroom behind the press box where you have easier access to stats and game info. You can't see the field from there, but they do have several TV's that carry the game. Also, there are lockers if you need to lock something up during the game.

If you have any questions when you are at Comerica Park, ask for Mark Hicks...He is the Tigers team photographer.

Photo by
After the game, there are plenty of nice restaurants, bars, and Casinos to keep visitors happy. I would recommend going to Greektown, which is a short walk from the stadium. Fishbones is a nice Cajun restaurant. Hella's and the Parthenon are good for Greek food.

There are also a couple of restaurants by the Fox Theater across Woodward Ave. from the stadium. If you walk behind the Fox Theater and Second City comedy club, there is a good bar called The Town Pump.

If you are into casinos, we have two up and running. The MGM Casino, and the Motor City Casino. They are both a short drive from the stadium. I would also recommend going across the river from Detroit into Windsor, Canada. There are many good restaurants, hotels, and a Casino.

(Alan Lessig is a staff photographer with the Detroit News. He will be covering Summer Olympics in Sydney this fall for Gannett New Service.)


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