Late Friday morning a fire broke out at Fifth Third Ballpark in Grand Rapids, Michigan – home to the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Roughly 30 employees of the team were inside the stadium at the time of the blaze but all were evacuated without incident and no injuries have been reported.
Images that circulated across Twitter appeared to indicated that the fire was centrally located in the suites along the stadium’s first base line. Reports have since confirmed that no damage was done to surrounding areas, including the team’s front office and ticketing areas. Roughly half of the stadium’s suites along that side were destroyed.
While a direct cause for the flames has yet to be revealed, officials from the Whitecaps have wasted little time in assuring the public that they will rebuild – all with the hope of completing construction before their home opening which is scheduled for April 8th. As Matt Snyder at Motor City Bengals points out, the Whitecaps have a strong following in the region and news of the fire hit the community – and many current and former Tigers who’ve played there – by surprise. News of their intent to rebuild was certainly well received.
— Hannah Saunders (@Hannah_Saunders) January 3, 2014
The Whitecaps are also scheduled to host this year’s Midwest League All Star Game on June 17th.
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) January 3, 2014
And of course, the before and after photo (courtesy of MiLB.com’s Facebook Page):