Crowdfunding campaign launched to save historic Negro League ballpark in Hamtramck

After years of hope and talks, there's finally a plan to restore Hamtramck Stadium. The historic site is the former home of the Detroit Stars and one of only five Negro League ballparks remaining in the U.S. It had been discussed as an important preservation site for years. 

The recent restoration effort was spurred by a Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation grant to activate Hamtramck's 26-acre Veterans Memorial Park, which includes Hamtramck Stadium.

A group of community partners, including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Piast Institute, and Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, have launched a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign to support the effort. If the campaign raises $50,000 by April 2, the MEDC will provide matching grants for up to the same amount. 

"As a field that's welcomed at least 18 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, including great Negro League players like Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige, Hamtramck Stadium serves as an important reminder of African-American history here in Metro Detroit and across the country," says Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium founder and president Gary Gillette. 

Funds from the campaign will go towards updating the field for baseball, soccer, and cricket games. There are also plans for art installations and improved signage. The city of Hamtramck will restore the grandstands at a later time. 

The Hamtramck Stadium Grounds Crew, formerly the Navin Field Grounds Crew, will undertake the restoration, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. 

The campaign has already gotten a boost from one of the Detroit's most famous celebrities: Jack White. An avid baseball fan, White kicked off the campaign with a $10,000 donation.
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Aaron Mondry is a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.