With seven cities now eligible to apply for spring-training grants from the state, Lakeland has more inventive to move forward with a renovation of Tiger Town and Joker Marchant Stadium.
Lakeland had already announced a $50-million makeover in conjunction with the Detroit Tigers, addressing both the seating bowl and berm at Joker Marchant Stadium as well as the workout facilities throughout Tiger Town, under the plan from HKS Sports and Entertainment. You can read the details here.
Now, with the state approving additional spending on spring training in the most recent session (the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays were cited as major beneficiaries of the program), cities are looking at how they might qualify for some of the money. The state did set down criteria for distributing the money, and it would appear Lakeland would be near the front of the line to receive $20 million. The criteria includes things like length of the lease (in this case, 30 years), usage of the facility year-round, and more. The Florida Sports Foundation will determine the award recipients. You can expect Lee County to make an application on behalf of the Minnesota Twins camp renovations, and whatever community lands the Washington Nationals is also expected to apply for a grant.
It’s interesting that the state decided to move ahead with spending on spring-training facilities and passed on spending any money on renovations to Sun Life Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Spring training is an established tourism draw, generating some $45 million to communities hosting it. An NFL stadium, on the other hand, will host several big events and then lie fallow for weeks and months at a time.
RELATED STORIES: Florida approves $50 million in aid for new Astros, Blue Jays spring complex; Joker Marchant Stadium, Tiger Town set for dramatic overhaul; Funding for Twins spring-training renovations approved
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