The city of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers reached an agreement on a lease extension, committing the pair to Tiger Town and Joker Marchant Stadium upgrades, while keeping the team in central Florida through 2036.
The $37-million plan for Tiger Town and Joker Marchant Stadium upgrades includes an expanded press box, new synthetic surfaces for practice fields, new concession areas and a new grandstand in left field, replacing the notoriously uncomfortable block of bleachers.
The work will be done after spring training 2016 and be completed for 2017. While work is going on, the Lakeland Flying Tigers (High Class A; Florida State League) will be playing at historic Henley Field, which was last used by the Lakeland Tigers for the 2002 season while Joker Marchant Stadium underwent renovations. It is of a classic Spanish Mediterranean design; echoes of it can be seen in the Joker Marchant Stadium renovations. The Cleveland Indians used Henley Field for spring training from 1925 to 1927, and the Tigers used it for spring training between 1934 and 1966. Florida Southern College now calls Henley Field home. It is a very, very basic facility, but it's also one worth visiting for a window into the world of baseball past.
RELATED STORIES: Polk County commits $14.6M toward Tiger Town renovations; Tiger Town renovations scaled back; funding under debate; Florida spring-training spending could extend to Lakeland; Florida approves $50 million in aid for new Astros, Blue Jays spring complex; Joker Marchant Stadium, Tiger Town set for dramatic overhaul
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