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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium – Detroit Tigers Spring Training


Photos by Lloyd brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium 2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd Lakeland, FL 33805


Year Opened: 1966

Capacity: 9,000

 

The Eyes Are On The Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have called Lakeland, Florida their Spring Training home since 1934, and since 1966 that home has been at Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown. The stadium is named for Marcus “Joker” Marchant, the city of Lakeland’s Parks and Recreation, who worked tirelessly at the beginning of the city’s relationship with the team.


Today’s Joker Marchant Stadium looks very different than it did in 1966, as it has gone through major renovations in 1966, 2003 and 2016. These renovations have brought the stadium up to a capacity of 9,000 fans. The most recent renovations have been to increase fan comfort by creating more shade for the various seating arrangements around the playing field. One thing that has remained constant are the field dimensions of 340’ to left field, 420’ to deep center and 340’ to right field.


Food and Beverage 4

There are six main concession stands located at Joker Marchant Stadium:

Canteen: This stand is located on the first base concourse. It sells the usual ballpark standards, including hot dogs ($6), chicken tenders ($7), pretzels ( $6), popcorn ($5), Pepsi brand sodas ($8) and bottled water ($5.50).

Mac and Tator: This stand is located along the third base concourse and features ballpark standards, as well as chilimac and tator, small mac and tator, an build your own mac and tator.


Hot Corner: Also located on the third base concourse, this stand offers the same menu items as the Canteen stand.


Hangar Grab and Go: This stand is located in the left field area of the ballpark. It features a convenience store self-serve format. In addition to sodas ($8), Gatorade ($6.50), canned beers ($11 – $12.25) and bottled water ($5.50), this stand offers garden salads ($8), sandwiches ($7) and chips ($3).

Grand Slam Favorites: This stand offers BBQ nachos ($130, BBQ sandwiches ($11.50), Kettle corn ($8) and Carmel corn ($8).


Little Caesars: There are several Little Caesars stands in the ballpark. This is the only brand of pizza sold at Joker Marchant, as the late owner of the Detroit Tigers, Mike Illich, was also the founder/CEO of Little Caesars. Pizzas can be purchased as a whole pizza ($22.50) or by the Super Slice ($7.50). Pizzas are available in cheese, pepperoni or sausage toppings.


One additional item that is sold in season is strawberry shortcake. You may find that to be an odd menu item at a ballpark. However, the Lakeland/Plant City, Florida area is the strawberry capitol of Florida. It is a major part of the local economy… and is a wonderful addition to the ballpark’s food and beverage offerings!

All concessions purchases are credit card only.


Atmosphere 4

Joker Marchant Stadium is a very pleasant place to take in a Spring Training game. The grounds around the stadium are immaculate and the exterior of the stadium features the Spanish Mediterranean stucco that is very popular in this part of Florida. You’ll also learn a lot about the history of Tigertown and the stadium before you even go through the gates.


Once inside the stadium, navigating the way to your seats is very easy, as the signage is excellent. If you have time, it is a good idea to look around the stadium before all the seats fill up. There might be an interesting angle for a photo that you might not be able to get later.


Once at your seat, enjoy the game! However, there will be multiple pitchers in a preseason game, due to low pitch counts and the need for the coaching staff to evaluate multiple pitchers for the upcoming season. Take advantage of these breaks in the action to visit the team store, to check out a unique concession stand, or watch the minor league players on the adjoining practice field.


One of the major improvements made at Joker Marchant Stadium as a part of the renovations involves the electronics package in the stadium. A brand new videoboard measuring 46’ X 26’ was installed atop the hill above the berm. A LED ribbon board was added to the facing on the outfield grandstand. The sound system was greatly improved as a part of the renovation process as well.


Neighborhood 3

Lakeland is in farm country, more specifically strawberries. You will probably see plenty of groves and strawberry stands along the roads between downtown Lakeland and Joker Marchant Stadium. However, there is a lot more to enjoy in Lakeland than just strawberries. It is the home Florida Southern University, whose campus features the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright- designed buildings in the world. Tours are given at the University for those interested in learning more about Wright’s quirky building style. Speaking of building… Lakeland is also the home of LEGOLAND, and those traveling with their kids or grandkids will want to stop there for a visit. Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille is one of the more popular restaurants in the area to enjoy a postgame meal.


The closest accommodations to the stadium are located at exit 33 on I-4. There are several hotel brands represented. This is approximately 2.5 miles from the stadium. It is important to book early as these locations fill quickly during the preseason for baseball.


Fans 4

Tigertown has been the spring training home to the Detroit Tigers since 1934, and the first sign of spring is the number of Michigan license plates heading down I-75 to Lakeland. The Tigers fanbase is one of the most loyal in baseball, despite a dearth in championships in recent years. It is easy to convince Motor City residents to head south and escape the harsh winters in Michigan.


Tiger fans are like one big family, and they value tradition. Many families head to the Tiger mosaic on the exterior of the stadium for a family photo each year, measuring their children’s growth by how close their heads are to the colorful backdrop. Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown have plenty of elements like that, as the complex is filled with the names of Tiger greats like Kaline, Horton, Lolich and McLain. There are also plaques to the legendary 1968 World Series Champion Tigers, and the retired numbers of the Tiger franchise are also prominently on display in the ballpark.


Access 4

Joker Marchant is easily accessed via exit 33 on Interstate 4. After exiting the interstate, get on Highway 33 South. Go under the next overpass, then go to the right onto Lakeland Hills Boulevard headed west. The Tigertown complex and Joker Marchant Stadium will be on your left. Here you have two choices. There is a large parking area adjacent to the stadium that is controlled by the Tigers and Tigertown. Parking in this lot is $8 if you prepay for your space online or $10 the day of the event. The Lutheran Church across Lakeland Hills Parkway from Tigertown and the stadium has raised money for its outreach in the community programs by offering parking in its lot for $5. We mention this not to save a small bit of change, but to share that many fans feel it is much easier to get back on the road at the end of a game from the other side of the road from the stadium.


We recommend the Tampa International Airport if your visit is limited to Tampa, Lakeland, Bradenton or Dunedin. It offers flights to nearly everywhere. The Orlando airport may seem to be the best choice, but the traffic around the airport and flights are hard to get due to Disney and all the other amusement parks.

Like most stadiums in the Grapefruit League, gates at Marchant Stadium open two hours before the opening pitch. This should give you plenty of time for you to orient where your seats are in the stadium, as well as to visit the team store or get something at the concession stands.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Tiger games at Joker Marchant Stadium are available at several price points. All the seats on the lower level behind the plate and extending to first and third base are sold out. However, the upper-level seats in these areas are still available. Ticket prices range from $35 for seats in the 200 level, down to berm seating for $13. There are six pricing levels in between the $35 -$ 13 range.


The good news is that after the recent renovations the number of seats that are in the shade at the stadium increased 42%.


Parking at Tigertown or the Lutheran Church across the street costs $5- $10.


We found the food prices at Tiger games was lower than other Spring Training parks.


Extras 4

Fans traveling with kids or grandkids may want to take them to the play area near the top of the berm and next to the inflatable Tiger. This is a supervised area, and a great way for the kids to burn off all that in the car too long energy or the sugar high they may be on.


The Tigers Spring Training Complex is relatively near the Spring Training complexes for the Pirates, the Blue Jays the Phillies and Yankees. Detroit plays very few night games, so check the night game schedule for the other teams and you might get in a day/night doubleheader.


The mosaic tiger at the base of the tower outside Joker Marchant Stadium makes a great background for your selfie shot at a game.


The starting lineups for each team are posted the walls in the main concourse. There is also a painted map of all the teams that participate in the Grapefruit League and where in Florida they are located.


Final Thoughts

The Tigers franchise has the longest relationship with one Florida city of any team in the Grapefruit League. The Tigertown complex has grown and evolved over the years, but has always maintained a strong relationship with the traditions of its past. Joker Marchant Stadium is always looking for ways to improve the fan experience after each spring training season, with plans getting underway for the next year, immediately after the team departs for Detroit to begin the regular season.

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