Plans for renovations to Steinbrenner Field have moved forward, with the Tampa City Council approving upgrades to the spring training home of the New York Yankees.
In this instance, Tampa was not approving any specific financial or land transaction. Rather, Florida law requires the city to sign off on any deal involving the Tampa Sports Authority, which is partnering with the Yankees on the project. More from the Tampa Bay Times:
The city does not own any of the property involved, is not contributing any money to the project and is not a party to any of the agreements. Still, the state law that enables the sports authority to do the deal required it to get the city’s approval for the plan.
More than $13 million from Hillsborough County’s tourism tax on hotel room rentals will help pay for the project, along with another $13 million expected from the state of Florida though its spring training retention fund. The Yankees will pay the remaining $13 million.
Current plans call for Steinbrenner Field to be fitted with roughly $40 million in renovations, which will be complete in time for spring training 2017. On the fan experience side, the Yankees will add a 360-degree concourse to the ballpark, an improved entry plaza, and new seating. Also on tap are upgrades to the roof and enhanced player amenities, including work on the practice facility on Himes Avenue.
The upgrades are coming at a good time for Steinbrenner Field. While it has served the Yankees well since opening in 1996, the facility is behind some its counterparts in both Florida and Arizona, as the landscape for spring training venue upgrades and replacements continues to be competitive.
In fact, under its current schedule, the unveiling of the renovations to Steinbrenner Field will coincide with the reopening of Joker Marchant Stadium—spring home of the Detroit Tigers—after a $40 million renovation, and the launch of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new shared facility for the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.
As the Tampa Bay Times noted, the Yankees’ lease will change as part of this agreement. To get the county—which was not previously obligated to fund renovations—to make a financial commitment, the Yankees agreed to extend their lease from 2025 to 2046.
These changes will affect regular season action as well, as Steinbrenner Field is also the home of the Tampa Yankees (High A; Florida State League).