The New York Yankees will continue spring training at Steinbrenner Field through 2046 under the terms of a ballpark renovation plan that will address physical-plant issues as well as upgrading the fan experience.
Under the terms of the deal agreed to by the Yankees and the Tampa Sports Authority, Steinbrenner Field will be upgraded with a 360-degree concourse (finally!) a new and expanded entrance area at the walkway over Dale Mabry Avenue and the addition of shaded seating areas throughout the ballpark. Other work will address upgrades to physical-plant needs, such as air conditioning and roofing. The total cost of the renovation project, which will include work at the nearby Himes Avenue training complex, is $40 million, with funding coming from the city (in the form of hotel tax proceeds), the team and the state.
There is one detail that is far from guaranteed: that $40 million funding formula assumes $1 million annually for 20 years from the state as part of a program for communities to retain spring training. This grant is not automatic: it was part of the funding for the new Washington Nationals/Houston Astros spring-training complex in West Palm Beach, but approval for the funding came at the very last minute, as state legislators and the governor’s office agonized over its inclusion in the state budget.
“The Steinbrenner family is extremely proud to have called Tampa Bay home for decades and extending the New York Yankees’ agreement with the community through 2046 is very important to us,” said Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees managing general partner, via press release news release. “We are excited to see these improvements to Steinbrenner Field, all of which will significantly improve the fan experience.”
The team’s current lease at Steinbrenner Field was slated to end in 2025.
As teams have improved their spring-training facilities in the last decade, Steinbrenner Field has lagged in offering a top-notch fan experience. If the funding can be finalized soon, the improvements could be done as soon as spring training 2017. Next spring will also see a major overhaul of Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers, but it certainly won’t be the last spring-training ballpark overhaul, as the San Francisco Giants have reportedly been looking at major changes to Scottsdale Stadium.