1 p.m.: Play ball!
12:35 p.m.: Burgers topped with kimchee slaw, bean sprouts and rooster sauce. Braised beef short ribs wrapped in corn tortillas. The attendees of Opening Day’s first food truck rally in Campus Martius Park enjoyed shorter lines and more food choices than their uptown counterparts. Concrete Cuisine says as that business has picked up as the sun comes out. A mix of business people in suits and baseball fans in ball caps are noshing on concretes sweet potato fries and dill pickle spears.
12:15 p.m.: Despite the cold winds whipping through Grand Circus Park, fans still stood clutching cans of Bud Light at the Tiger’s signature Opening Day block party on Adams Street. Radio station promoters hawked stickers and temporary tattoos; a band played country rock in winter jackets. The crowd was quiet, one gets the sense they are just counting down the minutes till the umpire declares, “Play ball.”
11:15 a.m.: Park Bar went big this year for Opening Day. Manager Joe Kvoriak says they ordered 170 cases of canned beer, 120 kegs inside, and on the outdoor truck in their heated tent, another 60 kegs of beer. They also were forced to clear out a second stockroom to hold handles of liquor ordered for today, only. Opening Day is the biggest day of the year for Jerry Belanger’s bar, which is a favorite among locals. Kvoriak says one opening day is worth a month or regular business.
11:03 a.m.: Things for sale on the streets: pizza, Tigers hoodies, gold oversized “Valverde” sunglasses, peanuts, Verlander’s head attached to a stick, and tickets, tickets, tickets. The Tigers’ most famous bongo player is spitting rhymes outside of Comerica Park. Beside him, a saxophonist plays, albeit mournfully. Despite the tens of thousands of fans downtown, they say they’ve made less than $20 this morning. “Tigers game and I’m down on my luck/wish somebody would hand me a buck.”
10:58 a.m.: We’re following the Opening Day crowds on Twitter and just about everyone is reporting backed crowds. The Detroit Beer Company is a “sea of orange and blue” according to @melodybaetens
10:37 a.m.: Bartenders at Hockeytown Cafe arrived this morning at 6:30. Despite the hour, they say sales are already on track to best last year’s Tiger opener. The restaurant’s three floors and patio are already crowded with fans in orange and blue. Hockeytown has a 2,000 person indoor capacity and room for another 1,000 on the patio. The general manager says they will definitely fill up within the next two hours. For now, there’s no line outside and only a 20 to 30-minute wait for tables, but that will change within an hour.
10:10 a.m.: Thousands are tailgating and have been here for hours already. Many rented party buses; other tailgaters are outfitted with photo booths, professional speaker systems and beer pong tables. Fans are paying as much as $50 to park in the lots north of the Fisher Service Drive along Woodward Ave.
Original Post: The first pitch won’t be thrown out until this afternoon, but Detroiters are already converging downtown for Opening Day of the Detroit Tigers 2012 season.
MLive.com will be on the prowl today inside CoPa and out on the streets, providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of baseball returning for another glorious summer.
With 140,000 Tigers fans expected to make the pilgrimage to the Motor City today, there’s plenty for us to share with you.
Can’t get off work? Want to find out the best places to eat, drink and cheer on the Tigers before you arrive? Keep checking our Tigers live blog for updates.