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07/09/08 8:48 PM ET

Demolition continues at Tiger Stadium

Conservation group trying to beat deadline to preserve relics

DETROIT -- The final farewell for Tiger Stadium might have begun as a conservancy group tries to save at least part of the old ballpark.

After years of legal wrangling, business plans, redevelopment ideas, upkeep and a project that goes on as supporters try to salvage a plan to preserve part of the historic structure, the stadium is now facing demolition. Workers began tearing down the stadium last week, a process that continued on Wednesday as excavators began taking down parts of the walls.

Photos taken Wednesday showed a large hole in the perimeter of the stadium beyond center field. Excavators went through walls from the outside and into the inner workings of the ballpark that opened in 1912 and served as the home of the Detroit Tigers through 1999.

The demolition is part of a plan approved by the city last year and awarded to a contractor this spring. Many of the seats and other memorabilia were auctioned off last fall, with more seats remaining.

While parts of the stadium come down, the nonprofit Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy Group is fighting to meet an Aug. 1 deadline to raise funds that would help pay to preserve the diamond, dugouts and a limited number of seats. The project would develop those into a museum that would include the artifact collection of Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who is a supporter of the preservation plan.

The group is looking for private donations and has a Web site for supporters, but the best hope for preservation hinges at least in part on money from loans or through the federal government. The stadium is on the National Register of Historic Places.

If those plans fall short, the entire structure would be demolished, with some remaining parts auctioned off and others sold for scrap. From there, the city of Detroit would look for proposals on redeveloping the site in the city's Corktown neighborhood, just west of downtown.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.