Tigers Spring Training
|2016 First Practice Dates
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|Year ||Total ||Average
Spring Training Info
| Detroit Tigers Spring Training
||Area Info - Lakeland
Joker Marchant Stadium
Spring Training home of the Tigers since 1966
2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33805
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Joker Marchant Stadium is a short drive from I-4. Appropriate for a team from the Motor City, the ballpark's neighbors are auto dealerships. Lakeland's local Honda, Acura and GMC dealerships are in the ballpark's backyard - cars are literally in the shadows of the left field grandstand.
Take I-4 to Exit 33 and follow Route 33 South (Lakeland Hills Blvd.) for about 2½ miles and the ballpark will be on your left.
Although the lot surrounds the stadium, most people park on its first base side in either a grass field or paved lot. You don't want to park on the stadium's third base side, as the limited spaces there are in harm's way. Harm being foul balls. The large grass field behind left field is safe. Just take Granada Street and enter it via Horton Way. A cheaper parking alternative is available at Christ Lutheran Church, which is across the street from the stadium's left field lot entrance. The parking fee there is only $5 and you'll have the added benefit of avoiding post game parking lot congestion. Just look for the church's $5.00 baseball parking signs and some older-aged volunteers, whom are church congregation members that in many years also operate a charity hot dog concession in their parking lot that is alongside Granada and about 50 yards from the stadium lot entrance. And when that paved lot fills up, you can also park for $5 or less at the nearby Peak Worship church, where donations are accepted to park on their lawn, which is along Granada Street too but is a few minutes walk further from the stadium.
Stadium Cost: $8
With its Mediterranean-style facade and nicely landscaped exterior, Joker Marchant Stadium is a lovely site to behold. Surrounded by lush trees, it's the centerpiece of the Tigertown complex and has been hosting Tigers spring training games for five decades. The team has trained in Lakeland even longer, since 1934 (excepting the World War II years of 1943-45). The relationship between the city and team is the longest in spring training history. Built for just $360,000 in 1966, Joker Marchant Stadium was erected with concrete structure during a time when other stadiums were being built with structural steel (concrete withstands rust, structural steel does not). It has expanded over the years from its original capacity of 4,900 through renovations. The most recent one, completed just prior to the 2003 season at a cost of $10 million, added a berm in left field. The stadium was named after the city's former Parks and Recreation Director, Marcus "Joker" Marchant, who was instrumental in establishing the Tigertown complex.
Fast Facts The single lane streets outside the stadium are named for past Tiger greats (Kaline Drive and Horton Way).
Fans enter the stadium through its narrow home plate gate or via the much wider first and third base gates.
The ticket office is adjacent to the home plate gate and has a covered waiting area that's partially paved with engraved personalized bricks.
The concourse is behind the stadium and is completely covered. On the portion behind the main grandstand are a handful of scattered picnic tables.
Plaques dedicated to Al Kaline, the stadium's namesake, and the 1968 Tigers are found near an entrance portal on the first base concourse.
The bullpens are next to each other beyond the right-center field wall, well away from where fans sit. They are, in fact, the most isolated, and thereby least fan accessible, bullpens at a spring training park.
The clubhouses and Tigers' executive offices are housed in the two-story building down the right field line.
The stadium has two scoreboards. The main one in right-center has a video board. A tiny one just to the left of the batter's eye resembles the classic Little League scoreboard. There's also a display to the right of the batter's eye that posts the MPH of each pitch.
The lights hum loudly during night games.
Souvenirs are available at two permanent places on the concourse. The main Tigers team shop is behind home plate and another store can be found behind third base. Both are true stands, as you cannot enter them, and there are out in the open places to buy merchandise underneath the left field grandstand and on the first base concourse.
Practice Fields The Tigertown complex is behind the outfield and includes six practice fields. Fields 1 through 4 are in a cloverleaf formation. The other two fields are named for a pair of Tigers legends and are on opposite ends of the complex. Al Kaline Field is found behind the Joker Marchant Stadium berm while Hank Greenberg Field is near the Tigertown entrance gate.
Once the Tigers' spring training schedule begins, fans are not allowed into Tigertown to watch any of of the back field practicing. However, fans can stand behind the outfield fences of three of the fields -- #2 and #3, plus Al Kaline Field, which is the Tigers' main practice field. For all three fields, plenty of standing room is available in batting practice home run territory between the easy-to-see through chain-linked fences and Granada Street.
The Tigers take their batting practice inside of the stadium, generally starting three hours before game time and ending just as the gates open. But fans can pay an extra $5 to get into the stadium early to see Tigers BP. The cost of the "BP Pass" can be added to the price of a game ticket when bought online or at the box office, where already bought tickets can be upgraded, and early admission is through the 3rd Base gate only, as only the left field berm and left field line grandstand will be open. The time for early batting practice admittance can vary slightly. It's usually 10:00 a.m. but it actually depends on when the Tigers start hitting, which could be later, with their BP generally starting by 10:15 at the latest.
Types of Seating Stadium seats: Sections 100-112 and 200-210.
Bleachers: Sections 301-304 are sold as Left Field Reserved seats but are just bleacher benches with seat backs. Sections 401-403 (formerly called General Admission) are bleachers without seat backs.
Berm: A 45-foot sloped hill with a capacity of 400 people encompasses all of left field.
Fans have their choice between traditional stadium seats with chair backs and armrests, bleachers with or without seat backs, or the outfield lawn.
Notes about the seating The Tigers dugout is on the first base side. To make sure you're on the home side of the stadium, buy your tickets in sections 100-106 or 200-206.
An aisle divides the stadium's main grandstand into two distinct sections. Box seats are below the aisle, Reserved seats above it. There are far more reserved seats than box seats.
All stadium seats have cup holders.
Handicapped accessible seating is spread throughout the main grandstand. It can be found on the concourse above section 100, in a raised platform behind section 112, in row A of section 202 and at the top of sections 203-205 and 209. There's also spaces set aside on the concourse above the berm in left field.
The protective screen behind home plate extends from sections 105-108. An additional protective net is in front of sections 101-102 behind first base.
The seats at the very top of sections 401-403 are actually above the main grandstand's roof and it can get windy up there.
Standing room is plentiful on or around the berm. Limited standing room is available directly behind the box seats in the open space between the third base grandstand and bleachers plus in a similar area on the stadium's first base side. Additionally, there's a row's worth of standing space above sections 206-208 that very few people know about and thus use.
Ushers in the main grandstand keep its narrow cross-aisle clear at all times and will generally prevent anyone from trying to sneak into a box seat that's sans a ticket for one. They will, however, let you plop down anywhere else in the stadium if you can find an available seat.
Sections and rows Rows for sections with stadium seats range as follows:
AA to EE in section 100; AA to HH in sections 101-102; FF to HH in sections 103-104; AA to HH in sections 105-108; FF to HH in sections 109-110; DD to FF in section 111; DD to GG in section 112; A to Q in sections 200-201; D to W in section 202; A to W in sections 203-204; A to T in section 205; A to Q in sections 206-207; A to M in section 208; A to W in sections 209-210
Rows for sections with bleacher seats range as follows:
A to L in sections 301-304; AA to ZZ in sections 401-403
Rows I and O are skipped in all applicable sections. In the three 400-level sections, rows II and OO are skipped.
Tickets The first three rows of all 100-level sections are sold as Field Box.
Sections 100-102 are sold as Baseline Box (except for the 3 rows of Field Box seats).
Sections 103-112 are sold as Infield Box (except for the 3 rows of Field Box seats).
Sections 200-210 are sold as Reserved.
Sections 301-304 are sold as Left Field Reserved.
Sections 401-403 are sold as Bleachers.
Space on the left field lawn is sold as Berm.
Prior to their 3rd birthday, children do not need a ticket.
Seats to avoid
The worst seats in the house are found in row A of the Left Field Reserved bleachers (sections 301-304). That row is at field level and behind a chain link fence that is difficult to see over.
Some of the best seats in the house unexpectedly have a protective net in front of them. All Box seats in sections 101 and 102 are affected. They are the first two sections to the right of the Tigers' dugout. Stay away from them unless you don't mind looking through the black netting normally only found behind home plate, where a screen is not as annoying because it's expected.
Many of the cheapest seats in the house -- the backless bleachers of sections 401-403 -- have obstruction issues, and it's best to stay away from rows AA-DD as a result, as they are not elevated at all and are directly behind the aisle on which people frequently walk to get to and from all 300 and 400 level seating. That makes the recurrent fan foot traffic an often temporary view blocking problem for the first four rows of the three Bleachers sections, where some of the seats also suffer from obstruction by handrail or portal. Others you should try to avoid in the 401-403 sections are: all seats numbered 1 and 2 in 401, seats 28-30 in rows WW-ZZ of 401, seats 3-5 and 27-30 in row EE of 401, and seats 1-6 in row EE of 403. Most have issues with too close chain link fencing, while the others have partially blocked views courtesy of handrails on the entry portals.
The final flawed seats worth mentioning are the front rows (row A) of sections 203-210, from where fans have to deal with the double annoyance of obstruction by a too high handrail and foot traffic passing by on the aisle in front of them.
Seats in the shade
The stadium's roof covers rows N & up in sections 202-210. Not only are all seats in those rows covered (and thereby shaded), but because the sun is positioned behind the main grandstand shade is able to creep down further in the nine sections that the roof partly covers. For the typical 1:05 afternoon start, seats that are fully shaded can be found in rows E & up in sections 202-205, F & up in section 206, G & up in section 207, J & up in section 208, and L & up in sections 209-210. Once daylight saving time begins, the seats that receive shade at the beginning of the game shift to at least rows G & up in sections 202-204, F & up in section 205, H & up in section 206, K & up in section 207, L & up in section 208, and N & up in sections 209-210. As the game progresses, more entire rows of seats in sections 206-210 become shaded.
There are six suites, each named after a Tiger legend, on either side of the press box. Two are on the first base side of home plate and four extend down the third base line. All six have balconies with stadium seats. Elsewhere, the Officers' Club is a rudimentary private party deck at the top of section 209 that has wooden bar chairs, high top tables and deck chairs.
Gates open approximately 2 hours before first pitch - at 11:00 a.m. for an afternoon (1:05) start. Re-entry is allowed after your hand is stamped by a gate attendant.
Food, drink and bag policy No food can be brought into the stadium.
Fans are allowed to bring in a sealed bottle of water. Aside from never opened water, all other bottles, cans, thermos jugs and liquid containers are not permitted in the stadium.
Bags are allowed up to a maximum size of 16" x 16" x 8".
The Tigers' clubhouse is down the right field line and Tigers players will sign for fans gathered in the box seats between it and their dugout, both before and after the game. The visiting team uses the same clubhouse but their players usually take a route to it that cuts across the field, whereas the Tigers walk along the warning track close to the first base stands. So Lakeland's ballpark is a so-so one for home team autographs and a lousy place for those who prefer signatures from the visiting team. Serious autograph hounds will want to head to the right field corner outside of the stadium following the game and take their chances on a Tiger or two emerging from their clubhouse. The visiting team's bus will also be parked nearby, but behind the fence in a restricted area. So once again fans of the visiting team will likely be thwarted in their autograph pursuits.
Unique ballpark fare
Your taste buds will love the Lakeland concession stands. The Little Caesars Pizza stand is a natural fit, given that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch owns the pizza chain. A brat with sauerkraut and turkey burger is on the ballpark menu, in addition to the regular hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken sandwiches that are found at the eight-sided hut on the first base concourse. Specialty stands set up throughout the back of the main concourse are the place to find a whole bunch of not normal ballpark food. Long prominent among them is the stand standing on the third base concourse that serves up big turkey legs along with pulled pork and BBQ nachos. The rest of the rotation can change yearly, with 2015 seeing the introduction of a booth hawking Flint-style Coney Island dogs. The craft beer bar on the first base side concourse has the best non-tap beer selection in the stadium, which serves a small variety of typical or otherwise popular selections on draft (think Miller Lite and Yuengling Lager). Fountain drink pouring rights belong to Pepsi.
2016 Tigers Spring Training Schedule
(only home games at Joker Marchant Stadium are listed)
* Single game tickets went on sale Saturday, January 16. Links in calendar are to TicketNetwork inventory.
See the full 2016 Tigers Spring Training schedule
Ballpark Area Info
Lakeland is the only remaining spring training site in Florida that doesn't have a beach or major amusement park within a 10 mile or so drive. Really, it's just a sleepy central Florida town best known as the home of Publix Super Markets and as a destination for aviation buffs (Fantasy of Flight is nearby). As its name would suggest, Lakeland does have lots of lakes, one of which (Lake Parker) you can see from the upper third base grandstand. But unlike the majority of other Grapefruit League cities, it's not a place you'd normally visit outside of spring training although there is one site that many folks do stop by year-round to see. That would be the "Child of the Sun" collection of buildings found at Florida Southern College, which is about four miles from the stadium, that were designed by the legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The college's campus is home to a dozen such buildings, making it the largest single-site collection of Wright's architecture in the world.
Travelers' notes The stadium is just a couple miles south of I-4.
Henley Field, the Tigers' original spring training home in Lakeland, is just 1.4 miles from Joker Marchant Stadium and is still used by Florida Southern College, a Division II school that has won 9 baseball championships.
The stadium's location is less remote than it feels, but Lakeland is definitely not the typical tourist town in a state full of them.
Hotels close to Joker Marchant Stadium
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|Distance ||Hotel ||Street Address ||City/Zip ||Phone
|1.2 miles ||Motel 6 ||3120 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-682-0643
|1.3 ||Holiday Palm Inn ||508 E Memorial Blvd ||Lakeland, FL 33801 ||863-682-0303
|1.3 ||Ramada ||3260 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-688-8080
|1.4 ||Economy Inn ||1224 E Memorial Blvd ||Lakeland, FL 33801 ||863-683-7954
|1.6 ||La Quinta Inn ||1024 Crevasse St ||Lakeland, FL 33809 ||863-859-2866
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Restaurants close to Joker Marchant Stadium
|Distance ||Restaurant ||Street Address ||City/Zip ||Phone
|0.25 miles ||Charlie's Family Restaurant ||2614 Lakeland Hills Blvd ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-683-2999
|0.5 ||Chin Take Out ||1801 N Florida Ave ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-683-4040
|0.85 ||Cafe Roti ||200 Parkview Pl ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-688-2800
|0.9 ||Cajun Crab Shack ||1316 N Florida Ave ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-687-4441
|1.0 ||Crab Kitchen ||428 W 10th St ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-687-2722
|1.2 ||Bob Evans ||3130 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-688-0039
|1.2 ||Denny's ||3204 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-687-3390
|1.2 ||Burger King ||3212 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-688-9916
|1.2 ||Long John Silver's ||3108 US Highway 98 N ||Lakeland, FL 33805 ||863-680-2906
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Airports close to Joker Marchant Stadium
|Distance ||Airport ||Airport Code
| 6.9 miles ||Lakeland Linder Regional ||LAL
|36.3 ||Tampa International ||TPA
|44.8 ||Orlando International ||MCO
|46.8 ||St. Petersburg-Clearwater International ||PIE
|60.2 ||Sarasota Bradenton International ||SRQ
|80.6 ||Melbourne International ||MLB
|93.9 ||Daytona Beach International ||DAB
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