(WWJ) It’s been a long, miserable winter, folks, but take heart in this: The Tigers play Florida Southern College this afternoon as a tune-up for the Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
That’s good news for fans of sunshine and warm weather, and for the people of Lakeland, Fla., which the Tigers call home during spring training. While they are here, Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook tells WWJ Tiger fans account for $50 million in economic activity.
“We love the visitors to come in and visit our ballpark,” Cook says. “It’s phenomenal and it’s just a great boost to the economy.
The city finished work on a new stadium last year with new state-of-the-art fan experiences and player development facilities.
“Last year was phenomenal for us, truthfully this year I’ve talked to (the parks and recreation director) and he’s told us we’re on line to have one of our best spring trainings yet,” Cook said.
This spring marks the 82nd season for Tiger Town in Lakeland, and that extends the longest relationship between a spring training host city and a major league team. “Lakeland is ecstatic this year,” Cook said.
They may feather the nest with Detroit money, but those Florida folks are not fair weather fans, Cook said.
“If you could see my office right now, I’ve got bats and batting helmets and hats from the various years,” Cook said. “I’ve been with the city of Lakeland for 25 years, so they’ve definitely been a team during spring training and then when the regular season starts.”