Lakeland’s 87-year love story with the Tigers (plus the 2023 game schedule)

Tickets are on sale now, let’s go to the ballgame.

Screen Shot 2021-02-03 at 2.24.55 PM

Henley Field in Lakeland (1965)

Photo via the Lakeland Public Library

Table of Contents

Take us out to the ballgame, because baseball is nearly back. ⚾️

Tickets for The Detroit Tigers’ spring training games go on sale on Thursday, Feb. 16. The schedule has been released, featuring 16 home games that take place at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium (2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd.), with the season kicking off on Saturday, Feb. 25 with a game against The Phillies.

The Tigers’ return to LAL marks the 87th year that Detroit has called Lakeland its second home. This is the longest-standing relationship between a team and its host spring city in the Major Leagues and one of the richest in MLB history.

Although there’s no crying in baseball, here’s how Lakeland and Detroit pitched a tissue-worthy love story. ⬇️

The history of the Lakeland Flying Tigers

1923 | Lakeland’s first love: The Cleveland Indians arrived to train at Henley Field and brought an economic boom to the city in 1923. In 1927, the Indians and Lakeland parted ways.

A black and white photo of the Cleveland Indians in Lakeland, circa 1924.

Cleveland Indians (Spring 1924)

Photo via Florida Memory

1934 | The meet-cute: Lakeland invited the Detroit Tigers to come train for a year, trying to fill a baseball-sized economic hole in its heart. Before meeting, Detroit had trained at 10 sites. The team ended up signing a 37-year contract to stay in LAL.

A black and white photo of the Lakeland Flying Tigers circa 1937.

Detroit Tigers (Spring 1937)

1960 | Nuclear family: The Lakeland Flying Tigers were first a love child between Lakeland and Cleveland. In 1963, Detroit added Lakeland to its farming system, changing its name to The Lakeland Tigers.

A black and white photo of airplanes circa 1942.

Airplanes at the Lodwick School of Aeronautics in Lakeland (1942)

1966 | Moving in: The Tigers moved into Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium which sat 4,900 people upon opening. Before it was the spring training field for the Detroit Tigers, the land under the stadium was where thousands of pilots across the globe were trained. To pay homage to the original use for the land, the team was renamed the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

2014 | Renewing vows: The Tigers signed on to train in Lakeland for 20 more years, marking what will be a 100-year spring training relationship by 2036. The deal called for a $47 million upgrade for the stadium by the spring of 2017.

2023 | The future: As Detroit and Lakeland kick off their 87th year together this month, you can celebrate this love story by cheering them on and purchasing tickets here.

2023 Home game schedule

  • Feb. 25 | Phillies
  • Feb. 26 | Orioles
  • March 1 | Pirates
  • March 2 | Orioles
  • March 4 | Blue Jays
  • March 7 | Cardinals
  • March 8 | Nationals
  • March 10 | Yankees
  • March 12 | Twins
  • March 14 | Red Sox
  • March 16 | Phillies
  • March 17 | Yankees
  • March 20 | Blue Jays
  • March 22 | Braves
  • March 24 | Pirates
  • March 26 | Rays

The full schedule can be found here.

More from LALtoday