Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida has been the Spring Training home of the Detroit Tigers since 1965. It is also home to Tiger Town and the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Class A affiliate that plays in the Florida State League. Lakeland, Florida and the Detroit Tigers have the longest relationship between a team and a town in the MLB. To keep the Tigers coming to Lakeland, the city is investing money into major renovations at Tiger Town. These upgrades are needed as more fans make the trek to sunny Florida to get close to their favorite Tigers.
Renovations in right field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Adding a Tiki bar in right field. Photo by Kristen Bentley. Dec. 26, 2015.
One of the most noticeable changes to Joker Marchant Stadium will be in right field. To make the experience at the field more fun for fans, right field will have a Tiki bar and a scoreboard. In order to add these features, the batting cages had to be moved. Fans have complained about how crowded the concessions areas have been in the past, so there will be changes in the concourse, too.
The left field berm has been a favorite spot for families to watch the team. The City of Lakeland and the Tigers decided to leave the berm alone, but there will be a new restaurant at the top of it. The current plans include making that restaurant open all year. There will also be some new seating in the berm area, as another way to enhance the experience of watching the Tigers in the spring and the Flying Tigers in the summer.
Along with the changes along the outfield fences, the complex is being changed to allow for more and better training. So the Tigers can practice comfortably year round, the practice field will be turned to turf. The major and minor league teams will have their own clubhouses with larger space for training, lifting weights, and recovering from injuries. The batting cages that were once in the right field area are moving into the new training facilities, too.
Renovations in Lakeland, Florida at Joker Marchant Stadium. Adding new training facilities. Photo by Kristen Bentley. Dec. 26, 2015.
In the areas where fans can go, there will be a few other changes. Nearly half of the stadium seats will be in the shade – which is a big deal in the hot Florida sun. New concessions and seating will be added in various places and the third-base line bleachers will be replaced with new, modern seats that face the infield.
These changes to Joker Marchant are important to keep the Tigers in Lakeland, but also to keep the Tigers fan experience consistent. Fans visiting Comerica Park are entertained by the game and by all of the features in the park, like the outstanding food choices, the various shops, and the unique baseball Ferris wheel.
The entertainment trickles down into the minor league games. The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens play at Fifth Third Field, which opened in 2002. The field is surrounded by renovated warehouses that now house restaurants with views of the park. The fans in Toledo, Ohio will soon have the added experience of Hensville as an alternative way to enjoy the games on the rooftops of the warehouses. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Single-A West Michigan White Caps (who play at Fifth Third Ballpark) know how to bring in the fans. On a daily basis, the small stadium is loaded with fans enjoying the creative food, between-inning games, and special guests.
Soon, Joker Marchant Stadium will have its own special experience to set it apart from other stadiums in the state.