The city of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers inked a brand new 20 year deal on Friday extending a relationship that has already passed the 80 year mark.
Lakeland and the Tigers spring training relationship is by far the longest at a single city that a team in Major League Baseball has trained. When the new deal comes to an end, they will celebrate their 100th anniversary together in 2034.
The new deal starts with a $37 million renovation of Joker Marchant Stadium and upgrading the facilities at Tigertown. The majority of the deal will be paid for with taxpayer money. City commissioners are scheduled to vote on the agreement during their 9 a.m. Monday meeting where it is expected to pass. The next step in the process is finish what is left of the contract details.
City officials point out an estimated spring training economic impact of $45 million every year, plus another $18 million in estimated economic impact from minor league play.
In a joint press release issued by both the Tigers and the city it was clear both sides were pleased with the proposed deal.
“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,” Tigers general manager David Dombrowski said in the statement. “We are thankful and appreciative of the longstanding 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.”
Mayor Howard Wiggs said Lakeland is lucky to have the Tigers, both because of their economic impact and their willingness to work with the city on a deal that is good for taxpayers.
“I think it’s an enormous win for the entire community,” he said. “It’s gratifying to be dealing with an organization like the Detroit Tigers. When you look at some of the deals that have been struck elsewhere, they have been kind of one sided (in favor of the teams).”