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DETROIT TIGERS AND THE CITY OF LAKELAND REACH TERMS FOR SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT

DETROIT TIGERS AND THE CITY OF LAKELAND REACH TERMS FOR SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT
LONGEST RUNNING SPRING TRAINING RELATIONSHIP IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL CONTINUES

LAKELAND, FL (July 18, 2014) -- The City of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers have reached agreement on the terms and conditions that will be included in a contract that will extend the City’s relationship with the organization another 20 years.  The current contract signed in 2000 expires December 31, 2016.  The new contract will solidify the Detroit Tigers continuing their Spring Training, their Class A Minor League operations with the Flying Tigers and their rehabilitative program at Joker Marchant Stadium and the TigerTown Complex through 2036.

City Manager Doug Thomas said, “The parties approached the negotiations with a win-win attitude and I am very pleased that both the City and the Tigers were able to accomplish our respective desired outcomes.  We have developed a package that is cost effective for the City and continues to support the estimated $45 million in economic benefits associated with Spring Training and additional $18 million in economic impacts from the Flying Tigers to our community.  In return, the Tigers will be provided contemporary facilities designed to enhance player development and improve the fan experience so it will allow them to remain competitive with their counterparts in Major League Baseball. 

In anticipation of a new agreement, the parties have been involved in a process over the last two years that included tours of all the spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona to view best practice designs and to better understand the standards that are expected at current MLB facilities. The tours were followed up with a critical evaluation of the current configuration of Joker Marchant Stadium and the Tigertown Complex to identify the areas that would require improvements to allow the Tigers and the City to have facilities reflective of the market required for another 20 – 30 year contract period.  

“The Detroit Tigers are thrilled this new agreement will ensure the ball club will maintain its winter home in the City of Lakeland for an unprecedented 100 years,” said David Dombrowski, Tigers President, CEO and General Manager. “We are thankful and appreciative of the long-standing relationship with the City of Lakeland, Polk County and the State of Florida that in terms of years is second to none in all of Major League Baseball. 

The proposed design of the complex calls for separate Major and Minor League clubhouses that will be constructed; improved and realigned seating areas including additional shading; a 360 degree walk around layout to allow fans to be in constant view of the game; upgraded concession and new vending areas; expanded press box facilities in response to growing media interest with international players; a new artificial field surface in the minor league complex; new team cafeteria equipment; various improvements throughout the complex to assist in player development and rehabilitation; and overall improved layout and security features consistent with MLB security measures.

Melony Bell, Chair of the Polk County Tourist Development Council said, “Polk County has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Detroit Tigers for 78 years. With today’s announcement, we look forward to welcoming them back for another 20 years. According to the Florida Sports Foundation, the annual economic impact of the average Major League Baseball spring training operation in Florida is $47 million. We feel strongly that the Tigers have far more impact than that. Whether a Tigers fan chooses to come to Polk County for a month, or just drive to Lakeland for a day of baseball, all of our residents benefit from sales generated when these tourists are here.” 

R. Todd Danzler, Chairman of the Polk Board of County Commissioners said, “This announcement is great news for Polk County. We appreciate the Detroit Tigers’ long-term commitment to Lakeland. The Tigers bring more than just spring baseball to the county. Their presence through their minor league affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers and other uses of the ballpark bring crowds to Joker Marchant Stadium year round. Undoubtedly, our hotels, rental homes, restaurants and other recreational facilities benefit during the spring season when the Tigers are in our community.”

Specifics of the agreement include the following terms: 

•       A total of $37 million will be available for capital improvements to the Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown Complex, to be completed and ready for occupancy by the Tigers in January 2017.  The City contemplates a bond issue for the capital costs that will be amortized from the following sources:

–      The State of Florida, through the Spring Training Retention Program will fund $1 million per year for 20 years.

–      The Polk County Tourist Development Council will fund an income stream capable of amortizing a total of $14,560,000, payable over 20 years, or 39.4% of project costs, with total project costs not to exceed $37 million.

–      The Tigers will provide funding through the payment of $530,000 per year to the City for 20 years, with such payments taking the form of rent, coupled with a management services fee, the latter of which includes CPI adjustments every five years.

–      The City will fund an estimated $190,000 per year for 20 years. 

Dombrowski said, “We believe the extensive enhancements to TigerTown will offer the loyal and passionate fans in Lakeland and the legions of Tigers fans that travel to Florida with a one-of-a-kind Spring Training experience. Lakeland plays a significant role year-round in the Tigers baseball operations and the planned renovations will provide the players with a state-of-the-art development and rehabilitation facility, certain to be amongst the best in all of baseball.”

Mayor Howard Wiggs said, “We truly appreciate the partnerships with the Detroit Tigers, the State of Florida, the Central Florida Tourist and Development Council, and the City Commission for their financial support for the successor agreement.  I would also like to thank our local legislative delegation, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, and local baseball supporters John and Becky Rodda, Robert Puterbaugh and others who helped the City in our efforts to amend the State's Spring Training Retention Bill which was a critical component in our negotiations.”

“Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers, the City of Lakeland and Polk County for extending the longest spring training relationship between a community and a Major League Baseball team," said Florida Sports Foundation President John Webb.  "This lease extension is a salute to the professionalism of all parties involved and the heritage and tradition both have enjoyed for almost eight decades.  This agreement will continue their partnership to over 100 years of a mutually beneficial relationship.  This unmatched partnership is a good example of Florida's strong sports industry and ensures Major League Baseball Spring Training will remain in the area for future generations to enjoy."

 

-END-


Former LPD Chief Lisa Womack Cleared of Wrongdoing by City Manager

On Tuesday, June 24th City Manager Doug Thomas filed official documents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement stating that former Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack left voluntarily in good standing.

View documents


Sniffen & Spellman, PA Final Report Released

Sniffen & Spellman, PA Final Report Released

The Lakeland City Commission concluded the investigative actions conducted by Sniffen & Spellman, the Tallahasse law firm hired to conduct the review of allegations made by the former HR Director, Tommy Hamrick.  During testimony with the Polk County State Attorney’s Office, Hamrick alleged that City Manager Doug Thomas was aware of improper hiring practices made by former Lakeland Police Chief, Lisa Womack.  The Lakeland City Commission requested an investigation based on the 
allegations. 

 

The report has been concluded and the findings/ recommendations will be discussed by the City Commission at the Monday, May 5th City Commission meeting.


Please find the report submitted to the City Commission by Sniffen & Spellman linked below.

 

Full Report from Sniffen & Spellman, P.A      I      Exhibits 1 - 12


LPD CHIEF WOMACK OFFICIALLY SEPARATES FROM THE CITY OF LAKELAND

LPD CHIEF WOMACK OFFICIALLY SEPARATES FROM THE CITY OF LAKELAND

 
LAKELAND, FL (February 21, 2014) -- Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas has announced that Police Chief Lisa Womack and the City of Lakeland have agreed to accelerate her planned separation from the City from May 1, 2014 to February 17, 2014.  Chief Womack previously tendered her resignation on January 24th, with an effective date of May 1, 2014.  That period was intended to give the City time to prepare for her transition from the department as well as for her to provide support to the City on a number of ongoing personnel and other administrative matters involving the Lakeland Police Department.  Womack was placed on paid administrative leave on January 30th following receipt of a report alleging concerns involving various hiring practices of the Police Department. Assistant Chief Larry Giddens was subsequently appointed as Acting Chief of Police.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Womack will continue to be available to provide support services to the City as needed through May 1, 2014, but she will do so as an independent consultant.  As such, effective February 17th, Womack no longer holds the title of Chief of Police.  As an independent consultant, she will be paid $5,800.00 every two weeks which includes her professional services, associated taxes as an independent contractor and the costs of benefits that she would have otherwise received should she have remained a City employee through May 1, 2014. 

The scope of services Womack will provide are as follows:  
  • Assist in providing information that may be required in support of defense of any administrative matters.
  • Provide advice, support and information in any collective bargaining matters, and/or any other legal or administrative proceedings regarding employee investigations and related disciplinary matters arising out of the Lakeland Police Department during her tenure as Chief of Police.  These services include, but are not limited to:
    • Assistance in preparing requested background materials and briefings for City administration and legal counsel;
    • Participation in discussions concerning labor and legal strategies;
    • Assistance in grievance processing; depositions and providing testimony as may be required.
  • Be available upon request to address departmental operational questions from City personnel as may be needed to assist in the orderly administration of the Lakeland Police Department.
  • Participate in any internal investigations that may require her testimony through May 1, 2014 or beyond, if required. 
In the event that additional administrative support services may required by the City Manager beyond May 1, 2014, Womack has agreed to be available to the extent reasonably possible on an hourly rate.