Same Risk, Less Stadium.
If I've learned something in my years, it's that there are two type of people: those who want things and go about acquiring them and the people who want things but don't do a thing about it.
I fall into the latter. Having been to Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (former NHL arena) and ranking it in my top 3 explores ever; I knew I always wanted to do Tiger Stadium, but never went about getting it done. That's why it's good for me to have Don around sometimes, because he pushes me to do things I don't want to do on my bike, with buildings and with relationships.
The problem with Tiger Stadium was that Don had already been there.
Around 2004 - before I had stepped one foot inside a building in Deeetroit - Don had been biking with my other boy Dylan, when they rode by Tiger Stadium. Both wanting to check it out, they simply put their bikes in Don's Caravan and hopped the fence in front of a bus stop full of people. They went in the press boxes, they ran the bases, they sat in the dugouts...
I would continue to hear this story for the next 4 years. I would also see the occasional picture of the inside, courtesy of Team Lazy or Wide Open Deetroit; causing me to ponder the possibility of going inside even more.
The problem was that I always remembered the guards. I remembered the part in Don's story where they crawled across the floor while the guard had his feet up watching TV. I also remembered how FOX tv showed how a group of guys paid off the guards to get inside (and the subsequent firing of said guard).
Time passed and I watched as they demolished over half of Tiger Stadium, leaving only the area from foul pole to foul pole.
When I returned at Christmastime, Tiger Stadium sat waiting on a decision of whether to preserve the remaining portion or to finish demolition. I knew this decision was due sometime soon, so I made it a point to take a look at possibly doing Tiger Stadium while home for the holidays.
I made no mention of this to Don. He had said long ago that he was fine with seeing what he saw there and never returning...but if I wanted to go, then we'd go. Knowing this, I jerked my head and examined Tiger Stadium whenever we rolled down Michigan Avenue - contemplating a more risky day versus the relaxing days I had planned.
What I noticed was that the fence was mashed down at a good access point, as if people had been climbing there and checking out the inside. The security mostly sat in the opposite corner, with an obstructed view of this entry.
The whole thing suddenly seemed a hell of a lot more plausible, simply because that fence top was slightly mashed down.
I dropped it on Don as so: after grabbing some White Castle 2 blocks away, I proposed we drive around Tiger Stadium and take a look at what is going on. We drove around, saw the guard chilling in his normal location and I pointed out the fence mashing to him.
"Looks good. Are we going in?" He responded.
We made our way over to the fence mash point and looked both ways - realizing that Michigan Avenue doesn't really have a point with zero traffic flow. Also, a guy waiting for the bus was eying us the entire time. "Fuck him, what does he care?" I asked.
Once the traffic became relatively clear, we caught the foothold and made our way over the 10 foot fence. My outstanding agility meant about 10 seconds or so atop, until I eventually said to hell with it and jumped to the ground. We were now, finally, on the other side of the fence - I had finally manned up and went about getting inside.
The Trumbull Avenue fence had blown down just days prior, so every passing car could spot us if they looked to their right as they approached Michigan & Trumbull. Therefore, we scurried with alacrity towards a hole I had noticed earlier; about 50 feet from the fence climb. A piece of plywood made this entrance difficult as both of us had trouble scissoring over the flimsy board.
Being inside the fence brought about a stream of adrenaline, but now being inside Tiger Stadium brought about a Danube sized flow of adrenaline. I turned to Don with a smile from ear to ear and apparent jubilation - his response: "it's about damn time."
Anyway, the first area we entered into contained some cooking equipment and various utility rooms. We exited out of there into the above beige brick hallway. For some strange reason the walls were covered in sharpie tags and we wondered, construction workers? random people? both?
Moving from the empty beige brick hallway, we came into the ground-floor concession areas. Don commented on how cleaned out the place was compared to 2004.
We moved through what remained of the ground floor and found little more than concession stands and utility rooms. The walkways out to the field were blocked off with plywood, giving us a sense of security.
Nevertheless, we wanted to move through here quickly, so we moved onto the second level so that we could get out and see the seats.
The overhang of the third level, the various support pillars and miscellaneous rooms provided us enough cover. If someone were parked and really focusing they could see us, but otherwise we were good...especially when we creeped over and checked that the security guard was still relaxing in the same location.
We walked what was left of the second deck. More concession stands, but also bathrooms! While there may have bathrooms on the ground level, I didn't bring my flashlight so I had no idea. I only saw these washrooms because Don pointed them out.
D: "Oh god. It's those fucking troughs."
N: "Ha. A guy on Dyes! said he'd give $350 for one of those..."
D: "Oh really? $350? Hmmm...think we can get it out of here?"
N: "No, man, no, focus! We're not stealing a trough!"
Unfortunately for us, all of the concourses from the 2nd to the 3rd level were locked and gated up.
Therefore we crept out to the edge of the walkways which led from the 2nd to the 3rd level. Don peeked out and saw where the guard was at a couple points and we found one where we concluded that he would only be able to see us for 3-4 rows worth of seats...and that was if he was paying attention.
After telling Don to hold on a second so I could take the above picture, we hastily rushed outwards and up the staircase into the 3rd (and top) level. We quickly went all the way to the top in hopes of getting to the press boxes - not realizing there wasn't a walkway at the top of the 3rd level!
Now...now we were sticking out like sore thumbs. So we took to sitting behind the last row of the nosebleeds. Don hastily took out his camera while I snapped a grip of pictures of what stood before me. I couldn't believe where I had found myself - I was in complete disbelief and it was so surreal that it felt like I was watching a movie as opposed to real life.
We didn't want to push our luck. Don began to put his camera away, not before I asked him to take one last picture - one of me up there.
The best part of this is that he would put this up and make it look like we were just relaxing up here.
We returned to our power walking ways and moved out of that room, across the second level and down a walkway; chugging along quickly while still remaining relatively quiet. Don stopped for a second to place 50 cents on the ground as it was clanking around in his pockets too much.
I overshot the room where the missing board was before realizing and turning around. We went into the room, quickly (and loudly) scissored that damn board, and scurried across the courtyard area within the fence. Without looking back for Don I put my foot on the white foothold, clamored up and over the fence in 3 seconds flat. As I was atop the fence I spotted Chad's Impala rolling casually by with Ryan hanging out the window filming. Oh boy...what timing.
A few seconds later I braced the fence with my back as Don came over. A homeless man walking by looked at us bewildered and continued on with his day. It was probably not even the craziest thing he'd seen that day.
We crossed Michigan Avenue to be less suspicious and generally slow our roll. We walked until we were parallel with Don's car, crossed the road and quickly got the hell out of Dodge.
D: "I've never seen you climb a fence faster in my life."
N: "When it comes down to it, I get shit done."