The City of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers have reached agreement on the terms and conditions that will be included in a contract that will extend the City’s relationship with the organization another 20 years. The current contract signed in 2000 expires December 31, 2016. The new contract will solidify the Detroit Tigers continuing their Spring Training, their Class A Minor League operations with the Flying Tigers and their rehabilitative program at Joker Marchant Stadium and the TigerTown Complex through 2036.
“The Detroit Tigers are thrilled this new agreement will ensure the ball club will maintain its winter home in the City of Lakeland for an unprecedented 100 years,” said David Dombrowski, Tigers President, CEO and General Manager. “We are thankful and appreciative of the long-standing relationship with the City of Lakeland, Polk County and the State of Florida that in terms of years is second to none in all of Major League Baseball.
The contract includes new facilities. The proposed design of the complex calls for separate Major and Minor League clubhouses that will be constructed; improved and realigned seating areas including additional shading; a 360 degree walk around layout to allow fans to be in constant view of the game; upgraded concession and new vending areas; expanded press box facilities in response to growing media interest with international players; a new artificial field surface in the minor league complex; new team cafeteria equipment; various improvements throughout the complex to assist in player development and rehabilitation; and overall improved layout and security features consistent with MLB security measures.
Melony Bell, Chair of the Polk County Tourist Development Council said, “Polk County has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Detroit Tigers for 78 years. With today’s announcement, we look forward to welcoming them back for another 20 years. According to the Florida Sports Foundation, the annual economic impact of the average Major League Baseball spring training operation in Florida is $47 million. We feel strongly that the Tigers have far more impact than that. Whether a Tigers fan chooses to come to Polk County for a month, or just drive to Lakeland for a day of baseball, all of our residents benefit from sales generated when these tourists are here.”
R. Todd Danzler, Chairman of the Polk Board of County Commissioners said, “This announcement is great news for Polk County. We appreciate the Detroit Tigers’ long-term commitment to Lakeland. The Tigers bring more than just spring baseball to the county. Their presence through their minor league affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers and other uses of the ballpark bring crowds to Joker Marchant Stadium year round. Undoubtedly, our hotels, rental homes, restaurants and other recreational facilities benefit during the spring season when the Tigers are in our community.”