LAKELAND (FOX 13) - After an 11 month over haul, it was "play ball" in Lakeland on Friday. The Detroit Tigers played the Baltimore Orioles in the first spring training game after a $48 million renovation.
"Everything about it is just upscale," said Barbara Bennett, who was wearing fuzzy tiger ears on her head as she watched the game. "The city of Lakeland has done a great job."
The facility now boasts fancy new sky boxes, a top notch gym and clubhouse.
"Plus all the cover-ups, where you're out of the sun and everything. It's just a great stadium, just a great place to be today," Bennett said.
While fans admired the cushy new complex, builders were breathing a sigh of relief. They could have been fined $200,000 for every missed game if they didn't make their deadline. Thankfully for everyone, that wasn't the case.
Along with the action of the game, the day had other highlights. In the morning, a statue dedicated to Joker Marchant, 30-year director of Lakeland Parks and Recreation, and his friend, George Jenkins, the founder of Publix, was dedicated.
Officials and others who showed up to the ceremony got a special treat afterwards. Publix concocted a unique ice cream for the occasion. It was cheese cake flavored, with blue M and M's and orange pretzels.
The mixture was not by chance. Blue and orange are the Tiger's colors.