Search

City News Blog

rss

The latest happenings in your city government.


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-


Governor Rick Scott Recognizes The Lakeland Center’s Perfect Safety & Sanitation Score for Third Consecutive Year

April 24, 2014 (Lakeland, FL) – The Lakeland Center is one of only 51 food service establishments in the Sunshine State that did not receive any violations by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation within the past year. This is the third consecutive year Ovations Food Services at The Lakeland Center received a perfect score, taking over the facility’s food and beverage operations in late 2009. Ovations Food Services is a nationally recognized food and beverage service provider to over 140 public assembly facilities across North America and a subsidiary of the sports and entertainment firm Comcast-Spectacor.

“I applaud you and your employees for demonstrating such a high level of attention to detail and commitment to excellence,” Rick Scott, Florida’s Governor stated in his letter to The Lakeland Center. “Thanks to you, Florida’s opportunity economy is growing.”

“Ovations did it again,” explained Mike LaPan, Executive Director at The Lakeland Center. “Their team does excellent work, bringing top-notch service and experiences to our guests.”

About Ovations Food Services, LP:  
A nationally ranked food service company, Ovations Food Services (www.ovationsfoodservices.com) delivers fresh menus, fresh management and fresh ideas to public assembly venues, hotels and casinos throughout the United States and Canada.  Ovations specializes in food, beverage, merchandise and hospitality services for stadiums, arenas, convention centers, fairgrounds, expo-centers, racetracks, zoos, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, casinos and hotels. Considered by many as the best managed and most innovative company in the industry, Ovations’ results oriented senior management team has been involved in managing almost every major public assembly facility throughout the United States and Canada.  

About Comcast Spectacor: Ovations’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor® (comcast-spectacor.com) is the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company which owns the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), the home arena for both the Flyers and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Wells Fargo Center, and four Flyers Skate Zone community ice skating and hockey rinks. In addition, Comcast-Spectacor is also the principal owner of Global Spectrum, the fastest growing firm in the public assembly management field with more than 115 facilities throughout the United States and Canada; Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage service provider; New Era Tickets, a ticketing and marketing company for public assembly facilities; Front Row Marketing Services, a commercial rights sales company; FanOne, a digital fan marketing company; and Paciolan, the leading provider of venue enablement, ticketing, fundraising and marketing technology solutions.


Contact: Kristen Thompson, Ovations’ Director of Marketing pr@ovationsfs.com or (813)909-2178 x 123


Lakeland Awarded Bronze-Level Walk Friendly Communities Designation

Lakeland, FL – The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has designated the City of Lakeland a Bronze-Level Walk Friendly Community for its walkability initiatives and programs. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and FedEx, Walk Friendly Communities is a national recognition program aimed at recognizing communities for their commitment to pedestrian safety.

For a medium sized city in central Florida, Lakeland offers many opportunities for people to walk safely and conveniently with more than 260 miles of sidewalks and 26 miles of off-road trails, within the metro area.  These sidewalks and trails connect downtown Lakeland with the surrounding neighborhoods, parks and scenic lakes making walking a pleasant experience.  

Among the top reasons cited by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center for the designation are:

·       A well-connected network of parks and trails, with future trails planned.

·       Good planning policies to promote infill development and Complete Streets.

·       Collaboration among city departments and with other agencies, such as Polk County Board of County Commissioners and the Florida Department of Transportation, to improve pedestrian safety.

This designation acknowledges the sustained efforts that the city is engaged in to build a healthy and active community for all Lakelanders to enjoy” comments the City of Lakeland Community Development Director, Jim Studiale. 

Lakeland is among four communities recognized in the latest round of Walk Friendly Communities announced. The Walk Friendly Community designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies. To date, 47 communities in the U.S. have been designated as Walk Friendly Communities.

For more information on Walk Friendly Communities, please visit http://www.walkfriendly.org.

Additional Resources:

Walk Friendly Communities Website

http://www.walkfriendly.org

 

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Website

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org

 

Federal Highway Administration Website

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/


 

CITY CHALLENGE URBAN MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE

DOWNTOWN LAKELAND

 

LAKELAND, FL (April 15, 2014) -  Red Trail Racing of Lakeland will host the City Challenge Urban Mountain Bike Race in downtown Lakeland on Saturday, April 19, 2014 from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.  The registration and head table for the event will be in front of City Hall on Lemon Street.  Registration for the event will start at 5 p.m. with a practice session starting at 6 p.m. before the racing starts around 6:30 p.m.

 

Ray Wells, promoter of the event said, “I’m excited and we have almost 150 racers that will be participating in this very unique urban mountain bike format.  In fact, I am not aware of any other urban mountain bike race in the nation and we started it all right here in Lakeland.” 

 

The urban criterium is a mountain bike race on asphalt and stairs that winds through the Iowa Street Parking garage and along Lemon Street in front of City Hall.  Spectators are admitted free and can view the outlined course along Iowa Street and the Iowa Street Garage from designated positions.  

 

The Iowa Avenue Parking Garage will be closed because it is part of the race course. The portion of Iowa Avenue between Lakeland’s City Hall and Lakeland Electric will be closed and a portion of Lemon Street will be closed for through traffic at Massachusetts Avenue.

 

Wells said, “This year we’ve added a cyclocross event where participants race their bike on the course backwards having to carry their bikes up the many stairs in the course instead of riding down them.”  

 

Visit www.redtrailracing.com for more information and to register for the Lakeland Urban Mountain Bike Race .

 

-END-