LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Baseball players are starting to arrive in Florida for Spring Training. It’s a big financial boost for the communities that play host to these teams.
That’s why the City of Lakeland is doing all it can to keep the Detroit Tigers happy. Crews are hard at work inside Joker Marchant Stadium, the Spring Training home for the Tigers since 1966.
Games start within the next two weeks, which means construction will still be ongoing when fans start arriving. The Tigers are asking the fans to pardon the dust.
“We are working real hard on logistics to be able to have the fans still have access to the field and still have them get the autographs that they are looking forward to have,” project manager Fiorella Hubbard said.
From new concession stands to batting cages, it’ll be a different place for the players and the fans when the work is complete in 2017.
Jo Brinker came down from Saginaw, Michigan. “It is neat that they are catching up and they don’t have to remodel the whole stadium because Marchant Stadium has been Marchant Stadium for forever,” Brinker said.
There will also be an adjustment for players. Steve Chase is the Tigers strength and conditioning coach. “When you tell them the weight room is in the batting cage, everyone has this kind of look on their face and once they see how well we have done most guys are pleasantly surprised,” Chase said.
The multi-million dollar facelift comes as teams are demanding upgrades – or threatening to move.
“Right now we are in our 80th season with the Tigers. This puts us through 100 years. No one will ever parallel that. It is a great relationship,” Lakeland’s parks and recreation director Bob Donahay said.
“What they are doing out there with all the renovations and everything and making people happy down here and have a good time coming down, get away from the cold weather and go Tigers,” Mike Carpenter said. Carpenter is a fan from Sterling Heights, Michigan.
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