Joker Marchant Stadium
Lakeland, Florida
Year Opened
1966

Current Team
Lakeland Flying Tigers

Affiliate
Detroit Tigers

League
Florida State League

Capacity
7,100

Location Map

My Grades
Stadium A- Atmosphere A Concessions B+

Photos taken in 2007
After attending games in Clearwater and Tampa the previous day, taking in a ballgame at Joker Marchant Stadium was a refreshing change. Situated in a residential area away from the busy strip, the laid back atmosphere is how a spring training park is supposed to feel (even if I was attending a Florida State League game). Having never seen the park before the extensive renovations in 2003, I can only assume that the park has been enhanced greatly without losing much of its charm. A tan stucco exterior meticulously landscaped with palm trees is the first thing that catches your eye. And the interior is just as nice. The main seating bowl consists of all green fold down chairs, split by across aisle which leads to the concourse. A large bleacher section along the third base line and a grass berm behind the left field fence complete the seating, though these are off-limits during the minor league season. The concourse is located behind the grandstand, out of sight from the field. It contains numerous concession stands and kiosks, most of which are not open during the FSL season. With the nickname change to "Flying Tigers", the Lakeland franchise has embraced the military theme. This can be seen in the concession options (i.e. the "torpedo" dog) to the names for the stands ("Mess Hall"). Also, the night I attended, all the game day personnel were dressed in fatigues. One odd quirk of the ballpark is the large fence that has been erected in front of the first base stands. Apparently this was put in to protect fans from overthrows as the seats are especially close there. But how many overthrows from infielders go into the stands ? Not many that I've seen. This seems like a lame excuse to obstruct the views of these otherwise great seats. Compared to other FSL parks, concessions at Joker Marchant are well varied and quite tasty. They include italian sausages, burgers, and chicken sandwiches. The atmosphere of the park matches the peaceful setting. While some between inning games are done (race the mascot, dizzy, t-shirt toss), there are no blaring sound effects and all music that is played is old-timey. The team does have a mascot, Southpaw, but he only made one brief appearance. Like most of the FSL teams, Lakeland does not draw well. But even without many fans in the stands, I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot more than in other places like Sarasota and Tampa. Joker Marchant Stadium is just a charming place to take in a game on a summer evening.
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