DETROIT - Chilly weather. Beer taps flowing. Foot traffic everywhere. Baseball in the air.
Must be Opening Day again in downtown Detroit!
The Detroit Tigers host their home opener Friday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. And no matter whether you're the most hardcore baseball enthusiast around or just a casual fan tagging along with friends for bar-hopping, we've got you covered on everything you need to know about this unofficial Michigan holiday.
First up: Game information
Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox
When: 1:10 p.m. Friday.
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit, Fox 2 Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1)
Starting pitchers: Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer (11-7, 3.06 ERA in 2016) vs. Red Sox RHP Steven Wright (13-6, 3.33 ERA)
Want to learn more about Michael Fulmer? We wrote about him for our 2017 season preview and how he finds an escape -- in plumbing.
What, you expect it be warm Friday? Ha!
Expect temperatures in the 30s for much of the morning if you're getting downtown early, with mostly cloudy skies and potentially high winds of up to 25 m.p.h. It'll warm up to the mid-40s by game time, with a high of 46 degrees by the late afternoon. In other words, bundle up.
As you know, however, the weather in Michigan can change at any moment. Keep tabs on the weather here.
Meet the 2017 Tigers
Though the Tigers are already a couple games into the regular season, there's a chance some of you are just joining in and are wondering who's on the roster, old and new. That's where we come in, of course!
Let's get to know your 2017 Detroit Tigers!
• The new guys: Seven players were on the Tigers' Opening Day roster for the first time.
• The entire team: Here's the Tigers' 25-man Opening Day roster when the team took the field Tuesday.
• Position-by-position breakdown: What's the situation in the outfield? What about catcher? The bullpen? We break it down from all corners of the diamond.
The first pitch
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez will throw out the first pitch before the game.
Rodriguez, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, played for the Tigers from 2004-08 as the team's starting catcher, leading the team to the World Series in 2006, just three seasons after the team lost 119 games.
He is a 13-time Gold Glove winner, including with the Tigers in 2006 and 2007, and a 14-time All-Star. He won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003, along with then-teammate Miguel Cabrera.
The Wayne State University Quartet will perform the national anthem.
Get inside the park early! If you want to catch Rodriguez and all the pregame festivities, make sure you get into Comerica Park by 12:30 p.m.
First things first: Get to downtown Detroit early. You never know what kind of traffic snafus you’re going to run into, with it being a Friday and rush-hour traffic still trickling in by the time Comerica Park’s gates open at 11 a.m. Not only that, but parking spaces near the ballpark will fill very fast.
A few quick things to know:
The streets surrounding Comerica Park will be closed off for foot traffic, including Brush, Montcalm, Witherell and Adams.
Southbound I-75 between Detroit and Southgate is closed for two years. That shouldn't affect your drive to the park if you're coming from Downriver or further south, but it will definitely affect your drive back.
Though Woodward Ave. isn't cluttered with orange barrels and lane closures like last year, the QLINE is not quite ready yet; it opens May 12.
Oh, and one more thing: If you live near downtown, the Tigers and Uber have partnered up for Opening Day to provide a pick up-and-drop off zone near Comerica Park. Furthermore, new users can download the Uber app on their phone and use the code TigersDetroit to get a free ride worth up to $15. The offer expires April 30.
Where to park
There are plenty of parking options around the ballpark in downtown Detroit, ranging from $25 near Comerica Park down to $10-15 a few blocks away, if you're in the walking mood. Check out the Tigers' parking map here (though keep in mind, there are more options than just what's on the map).
For those who haven't been to Detroit in a while, keep in mind that the gravel surface parking lots north of the I-75 Service Drive and west of Woodward Ave. are no longer available because Little Caesars Arena is being built there.
If you're looking for shuttle, group bus, limousine and taxi cab information, visit here.
Getting around downtown: If you need to park further away and would rather not walk, consider the downtown People Mover. It's just 75 cents per ride. For information on the People Mover, including locations, schedules and prices, visit here. Some good news, too: The Grand Circus Park stop, the closest stop to Comerica Park, reopened this week.
The new ballpark food
Last year, Comerica Park debuted the deep-fried Oreo, the Downtown Doc, Mac Daddy Dog, chicken and waffles and more. This year, there's even more to pig out on, including a Detroit coney dog pizza!
(Yes, you heard that right.)
Among the new ballpark foods:
• Little Caesars Coney Deep Dish Pizza
• Deep-fried Snickers bar (which, unfortunately, replaces the deep-fried Oreo)
• Cuban sandwich
• Hawaiian Dog
• Shawarma sandwiches and nachos
• Jalapeno and cheddar-stuffed bratwurst poppers
Downtown bars and parties
Want to explore Detroit before or after the game? There are plenty of options for bars, restaurants and nightlife in downtown these days. Furthermore, some establishments will offer shuttle rides to and from the ballpark before and after the game.
Here are 10 of the best downtown bars and parties to attend, courtesy of Free Press special writer Ashley Zlatopolsky.
If you’re looking for other options, use the Google Map we’ve built for you by tapping here.
What else is new at Comerica?
A few things!
• Ballpark improvements: Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez catches you up on the latest improvements to Comerica Park, including the Chevrolet Pavilion in leftfield, fixed-food locations in the concourse and a large new bar area near the Big Cat Food Court.
• Tribute to Mike Ilitch: First of all, if you're going to the game Friday, you'll notice a touching tribute in the outfield former Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who died Feb. 10 at 87 years old. The grounds crew at Comerica Park mowed a massive "Mr. I" patch in centerfield, similar to the patches Tigers players will wear on their sleeves all season.
• Promotions and giveaways: There are also a bunch of giveaway and promotion days planned for home Tigers games this year, including "April in the D" trapper hats, player posters of the month, magnetic schedules, Michael Fulmer bobbleheads, Miguel Cabrera Silver Slugger mini-bats and, of course, Star Wars Night on Sept. 16. Here's the full Tigers giveaway schedule.
Now I want to go! How do I get tickets?
But what if your ideal seats aren't available - or you procrastinate too long and they sell out? This is why the secondary market exists. You can still purchase tickets just about anywhere in the park on StubHub and Vivid Seats, though they do get pretty pricey the closer you get.
Good luck, have fun, be safe and Happy Opening Day!
Contact Brian Manzullo: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BrianManzullo.
© 2017 Detroit Free Press