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Economy / Business

Spend Money on Baseball, Governor Says

Gov. Rick Scott spent the day working at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium Wednesday, raking the field and selling strawberry shortcake.  But he also made an announcement about state funding for baseball. 

Gov. Scott sold shortcake to the crowd as the Detroit Tigers took on the Atlanta Braves. Scott said spring training baseball is attracting people in record numbers, which is good for Florida.

“Spring training’s a big part of our state," Scott said. "We have 15 teams here; they have a big economic development, which means more jobs for Florida families.”

To help keep those teams here, Scott is proposing the state spend $5 million every year to maintain and improve spring training facilities. Each project would require a local match.

In recent years, the state has been losing baseball teams to Arizona. Scott says he hopes this money will help to lure them back.

“Why would you want to be clear out in Arizona? This is where spring training started. It’s clearly where spring training grows. So, they’ll be back.”

The Tigers have been coming to Lakeland for 77 years, making it the longest relationship between a Major League team and its spring training home.