SBD/July 21, 2014/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Tigers Spring Training To Remain In Lakeland For 20 Years

A new deal will have kept Lakeland home of Tigers Spring Training for 100 years
In Florida, Little & Rousos reported Lakeland city officials and the Tigers announced Friday an agreement that would "keep the team" playing Spring Training games in Lakeland for another 20 years. The team's Lakeland Spring Training tenure is "already the longest at a single city" in MLB. The deal, by its end date, would "keep the Tigers" there until they "hit the 100th anniversary of their time" in Lakeland. The deal includes a $37M "renovation of Joker Marchant Stadium" and surrounding facilities. City officials have spent between $800,000 and $1M per year "subsidizing the team's spring training." Under terms of the agreement, the team will "pay more to the city in rent and management fees and take over its own utility costs" (Lakeland LEDGER, 7/19).

STILL HOT: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote the Red Sox "enjoy a friendlier environment than almost any of the 30 teams" in MLB. The club has a chance to finish in last place for the second time in three years, win a playoff game in only one of six seasons, and "still be perceived by their fans as 'perennial contenders.’" Red Sox ownership can "pare payroll, stay well below the coveted luxury tax threshold, and listen to regional applause while fans pay the highest ticket prices in baseball." Tickets and merchandise are still "hotter than they were at this time last summer" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/20).

BEAR CLUB: REUTERS' Daniel Wallis reported the Cubs are "suing two men accused of posing in bear costumes as mascots" for the club and "lurking around Wrigley Field, hustling fans for tips and in one case getting into a bar brawl." In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Friday, the team said that John Paul Weier and Patrick Weier "show up for games garbed in their 'Billy Cub' outfits, including Cubs caps and jerseys, offering to have pictures and videos taken with fans." The team said that it had repeatedly asked the Weiers to "cease their Billy Cub appearances, but that they have persisted, with behavior that has included lewd gestures and racial slurs directed at ticket-holders and others" (REUTERS, 7/20).

BITTER FEELINGS: In Chicago, Jared Hopkins noted the "bitter quarrel" between the Cubs and nearby rooftop owners over signs at Wrigley Field "remains hot, but the rooftops' political contributions have cooled off this year." Rooftop clubs and their owners have made "just five donations to politicians totaling $5,550 this year, a sharp decline from last year, when at least $80,000 went to politicians and campaigns in Illinois" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/20).
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