Didn't catch the news last night, but looking at some of the material online gives me some idea of what happened at the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, Old Kent Park -- aka Fifth Third Ballpark. Amusing that so many can't seem to figure out what's the first base and the third base sides. The first base side of the stadium structure is a total loss. Can't tell how much of the center area has to be torn down. I saw comments talking about how sad it was to see the scoreboard collapse. I thought they meant the big outfield scoreboard and wondered how far the fire ran -- but I think someone was talking about the smaller repeater boards mounted on the face of the stadium structure.
The firefighters had to work in 10°F temps, but fair skies. As opposed to today where it's about 29°F, snowing steadily with a stiff wind. Not sure which is worth for them. Oh, I know, it was probably the fact there were only two hydrants and that with 1500 foot of line, they had pressure problems.
More from the MLive article:
The upper right field section, including the concourse where Tigers Fridays are held and the famous Fifth Third burger is served, was destroyed - gone - along with the Whitecaps’ clubhouse. The seats below appeared to have been spared...
Fire officials believe that a space heater used by a work crew started a small fire in a luxury suite behind home plate. The workers thought they extinguished the fire and left the area, returning hours later to find a fire alarm sounding and the box in flames about 11 a.m.
Plainfield Township Fire Chief Dave Peterson said reports indicate there had been an earlier false alarm from the facility's fire suppression system, and that the unit may have been turned off. That allowed the flames to spread faster than if had it been functional, the chief said.
Peterson also said a lack of nearby fire hydrants - there were only two - hampered the ability of firefighters to knock down the blaze. Water hoses were run nearly 1,500 feet from hydrants, but that sapped water pressure and crews were forced from the onset to take a defensive position as the fire extended down the first baseline and the roof eventually collapsed.
Sounds About Right
When I took the photo of the smoke yesterday, it was between 11:30 and 11:45. The smoke was in a big ball, flattened a bit of top and the trailing off to the north. So my view on US-31 was head on to the front of the smoke plume, making it look self-contained.
It's 94 days to the Whitecaps' Opening Day. Even without rebuilding, if the seats are intact and undamaged, then the only problems are kitchen/vending space, luxury boxes, offices and the broadcast booth. You can announce the game from anywhere -- Harry Carey used to go into the Wrigley Field bleachers -- and in a pinch one can use food trucks and Port-a-Potties if they can't get the investigation, demolition and some level of construction in three months. Luxury box holders should revel in sitting on folding chairs eating hot dogs in support of the team. Isn't that why they go to the game? (evil grin)
Naturally, in the comments online there were people who, in the midst of those reminiscing and expressing sadness, were quick to point out, in no particular order, that there are people with real suffering so why waste a breath on insured buildings for some sports team, greedy people, and whether the workers involved with the space heater were union or not. The latter was a draw between those arguing for regulations and the Right To Work For Less union haters. I should spend less time reading comments to news articles.
Anyway, bottom line is there will be baseball and I bet the April fans will have some stories to tell. And ticket sales will be up for a team which is at the top of the season attendance rankings in the Mid-West League to begin with. (grin)