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Tigers' winter home to get makeover

Feb. 13, 2013 at 3:29 PM

LAKELAND, Fla., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Lakeland, Fla., has announced plans for a three-year makeover of Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown, the off-season home of the Detroit Tigers.

The work is expected to be completed by 2016 at a cost of up to $50 million, The Detroit News reported. That is the year the Tigers' current lease expires.

The Tigers have come to Lakeland every winter for eight decades, making the relationship with oldest one between a team and its winter home in Major League baseball.

Bill Tinsley, head of the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department, gave government and business leaders an outline of the plans Tuesday.

"There is nothing more important than the Detroit Tigers," he told the group. "Can you see Lakeland without the Tigers? You can't."

Tinsley said one thing will not be changed -- a grassy berm created the last time the stadium was renovated 12 years ago. The berm was built up from topsoil scraped from the site of a new practice field and has become a popular place for fans to picnic, complete with a tiki bar.

"That grass berm is sacred," he said.

Florida was once the place most teams headed to off-season. But eight Major League teams have gone to Arizona in the past 20 years.

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