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Polk County commits $14.6M toward Tiger Town renovations

Joker Marchant Stadium

The first part of funding Tiger Town renovations is set, as the Polk County Board of County Commissioners agree to contribute $14.6 million to the project — less than the requested $17 million, but enough to move things forward.

The money will come from a one-cent hike in tourist tax funds. The $37-million plan from the Tourist Development Council had called for $17 million from the county, but commissioners were wary of committing more to the plan — and with Lakeland officials saying they could make a deal work with the lesser amount, the stage was set for county approval.

The current plan also calls for $12 million in state money and $7 million from the city, but those numbers will need to be revised. In addition, the city is expected to approach the Detroit Tigers about contributing to the project as well. The project will address improvements to the seating bowl and berm at Joker Marchant Stadium as well as upgraded workout facilities throughout Tiger Town, under the plan from HKS Sports and Entertainment.

One nasty potential development: selling naming rights to the historic complex. It’s been Tiger Town forever, it seems, and the ballpark was named for Joker Marchant, the longtime parks and rec director in the city. Selling naming rights for such a historic facility would seem to be a sacrilege.

The goal is to put together a financing deal to entice the Tigers into a long-term lease; the team’s current lease ends in 2016.

RELATED STORIES: 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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