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June 07, 2012 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-06-07

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, •

Left: Some members of BackStage Pass
Cohort I on the field at Ford Field in
Detroit in March.

A look at Detroit's sports industry and its role in the community.

Eli Suris
Teen2Teen Writer


f you've ever lived in Detroit, odds
are that you've been to one of the
city's sporting events. It's no secret
that these athletes and the teams' historic
reputations have an impact on our local
culture, pride and economy, but just how
deep does this influence go?
We, the tenacious team of teenage lead-
ers known as BackStage Pass Cohort I,
were able to learn the answer when we had
the unique opportunity to explore Detroit's
sports industry.
Our first stop was what many call the
heart of Detroit's sports world: the enor-
mous stadium that refuses to conform to
other stadiums' rules and faces east-west
instead of north-south, just 'cuz. You
guessed it; it's the Lion's Den, Ford Field.
Built in the late 1990s, this steel behe-
moth is a marvel of modern architec-
ture, partly because the old Hudson's
Warehouse remains completely intact
within the stadium's walls and even pro-
vides space for suites and a view of the
field from the top.
As we toured the halls of Ford Field, we
learned it is designed to function as more
than just a football stadium and concert
venue; it also has quite a bit of office space
available as well as several floors available
for use as a hotel. Ford Field's versatility
comes from the ingenuity of the architects
who designed the building to be a hub for
the community.
Right now, I'm sure you've got a few
questions you'd like answered, such as,
"But, Eli, how does the design of Ford
Field affect Detroit as a community?" and
"Eli, would you please marry my daugh-

28 June 7 * 2012


ter/granddaughter/niece?" To which I
reply: stay focused, people. This is about
Detroit, not your old-fashioned Anatevkan.
tradition, although I'm sure your daugh-
ter/granddaughter/niece is lovely.
To answer your more relevant question,
the reason why the atmosphere of Ford
Field affects the Detroit community is
that it feels like Detroit. When you walk
through the doors, you still find yourself
walking down the street with the enor-
mous echoing stadium and Astroturf field
on your left and the old brick-and-mortar
Hudson's warehouse on your right. The
architect decided to build a unique palace
befitting a distinctive city, making Ford
Field feel like a part of Detroit, a part of
home. Perhaps building around the old
warehouse and giving it a purpose within
Ford Field instead of tearing it down is
a symbol of Detroit's character: We don't
forget or cover up our past; we build on it,

Apply Now

BackStage Pass is about getting
to know and be part of the Detroit
area in a behind-the-scenes-way. To
nominate yourself or someone else
to be part of BackStage Pass Cohort
III (BSP C3), email the nominee's
name, email address and grade to
coordinator Joshua Goldberg at
josh@communityNXT.com . Nominees
will be asked to officially apply once
the application window opens. BSP
C3 will be open to students entering
the 11th grade in fall 2012. Not all
nominees or applicants will become
For more information about
BackStage Pass, a program of the

giving it new life as we move forward.
The next stop on our journey through
the sports world brought us to the Fisher
Building, where we visited the offices of
WJR and met with a writer whom I, along
with many others in Detroit and even the
world, greatly admire. That's right, sports
fans; we had the honor and pleasure of
meeting the man, the myth, the legend,
Mitch Albom.
Mitch expressed to us his reflections
on Detroit, his life and career, and liv-
ing meaningfully. The author recalls first
entering Detroit with harsh skepticism.
However, his negative paradigm shifted
as he began to appreciate the city for its
people. The compassionate, hard-working
and all-around-special citizens of Detroit
enamored Mitch, who originally came
from New Jersey, inspiring him to call
Detroit his home, which he has for almost
30 years. Now he's one of the most respect-

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit, contact Goldberg.

Accepted To Cohort II

Noah Betman, Dani Blumstein,
Stephanie Curhan, Hannah Fine,
Dana Goldberg, Randi Goode, Alison
Hacker, Rachel Kestenberg, Jordyn
Rosenzweig, Jenna Sperling, Carly
Sternberg, Sierra Stone, Claire
Taigman and Melissa Weiss, all of
West Bloomfield; Adam Boorstein of
Birmingham; Sydney Freedman, Tessa
LeWitt, Allie Lisner and Stephanie
Podolsky, all of Bloomfield Hills;
Ari Kirschner of Farmington Hills;
Sruli Klein of Oak Park; and Hannah
Korelitz of Huntington Woods. All are
now completing the 11th grade. ❑

ed and beloved people in Detroit.
As an avid reader and an aspiring writ-
er, it was so fulfilling to meet a writer as
talented and as amazing as Mitch. I'm sure
I speak for everyone in my cohort when
I say that Mitch is one of the friendliest,
most interesting people I've ever met, and
that I will never forget what I learned from
him. Plus, I got a signed copy of Have a
Little Faith, and that's just awesome.
The final and most historic of our stops
was the old "fenced-in" and "locked" grounds
of the former Tiger Stadium. Upon our arriv-
al to the vacant lot, we were flabbergasted
to see the gate that so many city officials
insisted was locked indefinitely wide open
and creaking forlornly in the evening
wind. That's hardcore D right there, folks.
As we walked onto the cluttered patch
of land that was the stage for 87 years
of baseball history, I tried to picture the
stadium in its glory days; the smell of pea-
nuts wafting through the air on the warm
summer wind, the crack of the bat hitting
the ball, the thundering roar of the crowd
as the small white comet rockets into the
outfield. After almost 100 years of service,
silence prevailed instead.
I had a poignant moment there, look-
ing at what's become of the old field, and
the cohort discussed what should be done
with this place of immense cultural and
historical significance. Several ideas were
presented, such as a museum or memorial,
but most agreed that it should be made
into a public park that is maintained by
the city.
That fateful Tuesday was a day full of
firsts for all: It was everyone's first time
seeing the Lions' locker room, meeting a
hot-shot author like Mitch Albom, and I'm
pretty sure no one has trespassed onto city
property and gotten away with it. (Let's
hope Mayor Bing doesn't read that.)
We all learned a lot of lessons that day,
the biggest one being that sports and those
involved have the power to change a commu-
nity for the better through embodying your
hometown and serving a purpose like Ford
Field; writing enthusiastic, heartfelt columns
like Mitch Albom; or serving as a monument
to history like Tiger Stadium. We saw places
and people that make Detroit special and
are working to improve it, just as the sports
industry personifies. ❑


Ell Suds, 17, Bloomfield

Hills, graduated from

Bloomfield Hills Groves

High School and will

attend Michigan State

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