The Detroit Tigers have been closely associated with the city of Lakeland, Florida for 78 years. The Tigers have spent every spring in Lakeland since1936, making for the longest ongoing spring training relationship between a team and city in MLB.
Generation after generation of Tigers fans have made the trek to central Florida every spring to prepare for another season of Detroit Tigers baseball. That tradition is not going to change anytime soon.
The Lakeland Ledger is reporting the Tigers and the city of Lakeland have agreed on a 20-year lease, allowing the big league team and the Flying Tigers Single-A minor league affiliate to continue playing at their long-time Florida home, Joker Marchant Stadium. The lease negotiations took two years, with the Tigers exploring their options in Arizona and at other facilities in Florida before agreeing to remain in Lakeland.
The new lease deal extends the current agreement between the Tigers and Lakeland, which was agreed upon in 2000, and would have ended in 2016. The new commitment will stretch their relationship to 2036, which will make for 100 years of Tigers spring training in Lakeland.
The new deal also calls for $37 million in upgrades to Joker Marchant Stadium and the team's TigerTown minor league facility, including separate major and minor league clubhouses, an upgraded press box, expanded seating and concessions, and new artificial turf on practice fields. The improvements are expected to be completed by 2017. During renovations, the Flying Tigers will play at nearby Henley Field.