Lakeland may pump millions into Tiger Town to extend relationship with Detroit Tigers

Contract with Tigers expires in 2016

LAKELAND, Fla. - Tiger Town could be getting a major upgrade as the city of Lakeland tries to extend its strong relationship with the Detroit Tigers.

The organization has made Lakeland its spring training home for more than 75 years -- it's the longest relationship for a professional baseball team.

The current contract with the team expires in 2016.

"We have a great relationship between the Tigers and the city. We want to keep it that way," said Bob Donahay, Director of Parks & Recreation.

In order entice the Tigers to stay in Lakeland, the city is looking at renovating the entire training complex.

"We're a year 'round operation in Lakeland.  Because of that they need increased locker room sizes and also they need weight rooms, rehab facilities, areas like that so players can get better," Donahay said.

The upgrades are not just for the Tigers when they come for spring training.

The minor league team, the Flying Tigers, also play at Joker Marchant Stadium and train at the complex throughout the season. There's also a rookie league that plays on one of the five back fields for two months during the summer.

"We've just become dated, we're small," he said.

The city has already approved an architecture study to figure out exactly what areas need an upgrade and how much it will cost.

Some estimate it could be in the range of 20 to 30 million dollars.

"The city is behind this effort 110-percent," Donahay said. "The city manager and the commission, they want don't want the Tigers to go."

It's a hefty price tag, but not as bad when you consider the return on investment.

Spring training alone is said to generate upwards of 50 million a year in the local economy.

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