The television trucks were clogging the streets in downtown Detroit yesterday to report more bad news for this devastated area. The decision by General Motors to eliminate the Pontiac brand will cost 21,000 people their jobs.
Over at Comerica Park, GM has already pulled their ads from the stadium because they can’t afford it. The company had sponsored the big fountain in center field since the ballpark opened.
The Tigers had offers from other companies to take over the space. But team owner Mike Ilitch passed. Instead he had the logos of GM, Ford and Chrysler put on the fountain above a sign that says “The Detroit Tigers support our automakers.”
The cost to the companies? Free.
Ilitch explained to reporters last month that his father worked at Ford and he feels he owes it to the Big Three to lend his support. Ilitch is a former Marine and a former Tigers minor leaguer who founded the Little Caesars Pizza chain in 1959. Now one of the wealthiest men in the state, he has renovated much of the area around the park and also owns the Red Wings.
The Tigers, I’m told, are fearing massive drops in attendance this season as many people around here simply can’t afford to attend a game. But Ilitch is doing his part to try and bolster civic pride at a time it’s really needed. You have to respect that.