Joker Marchant Stadium – Lakeland Flying Tigers

by | Sep 12, 2018 | Baseball, Chris Green, MiLB |

Fanfare Score

Total Score
3.43

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Beautiful Baseball in Central Florida

The Flying Tigers aren’t exactly in Orlando or Tampa. They’re smack dab right in between in Lakeland. Easily driven past while en route to one of the two aforementioned major Florida cities while on I-4, this idyllic Central Florida town is the perfect location to feature minor league baseball without the hassles of Florida’s business. The team plays in a stunningly beautiful stadium, features a unique logo and color scheme they pays homage to Florida’s aviation history, and also is close enough to both cities to not be too far of a drive.

Food & Beverage 4

The food options in Lakeland are plentiful and feature both your standard ballpark classics as well as twists on your everyday sports favorites. Hot dogs and burgers ($4-$6 and $7.50 respectively) are on the list, as is pizza from Little Caesars ($5 for a slice or $15 for a whole pizza). Drinks range from $4 for a Mike’s Hard Lemonade to $7 for premium drafts. Bottomless popcorn ($10) comes served in a batting helmet at Publix Field, as do Chili Cheese Fries ($7). Perhaps the most unique option on the menu is the “Nothin’ But A Hound” Dog, a grilled hot dog covered in Memphis BBQ sauce, cole slaw, and chips.

Atmosphere 3

Nestled on the shores of Lake Parker, the stadium is stunning thanks to its latest renovation in 2017. A beautifully manicured outside parking area welcomes visitors, and the interior of the stadium is equally as clean. Once inside, the concourse is easy to navigate, with signage all over the facility to direct you to where you want to go. In addition, safety is of top concern here, with protective netting covering the entirety of the left and right field lines all the way to the end of the seating. This means fans can enjoy the game without worrying about leaving the game with a concussion from a fly ball. However, the lack of crowds on day games in the middle of the summer is a drag on that vaunted “Stadium feel” one looks for when visiting minor league baseball games.

Neighborhood 3

Lakeland isn’t a sprawling metropolis. That said, it features everything you need for your visit to be enjoyable. First off, Orlando and Tampa are almost equidistant from Lakeland, about 30 minutes away in either direction in I-4. For lodging options nearby, your closest options are right off of I-4, a few miles from the stadium. Here you can find a Motel 6, La Quinta, and Ramada. For food, that same I-4 exit yields a Bob Evans, Subway, Five Guys, and more. For things to see and do, the Fantasy of Flight air museum is just a 15 minute drive east on I-4. Additionally, Dinosaur World is almost the same distance west on I-4.

Fans 3

As with any Florida League team, weather is a big deterrent for the average fan attending the game. You’re either going to be really hot or really rainy on any given day. That said the fans in Lakeland do turn out on weekends and evening games, and a loyal contingent of locals have embraced the team. The construction of the team’s stadium helps amplify the cheering sounds so it makes it seem a lot more packed than it may actually be.

Access 4

To get to Tigertown, I-4 is the best bet. Exit 33 on I-4 will drop you off just a few miles north of the stadium. From here, drive south on Lakeland Hills Blvd and the stadium will be right outside your car window. On-site parking is plentiful. Signage on the highway helps direct you to the right exit when driving by.

Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices for Flying Tigers games begin at $9 and go up to $12. This is pretty standard for ticket pricing in the Florida State League. For the price of admission, however, you get to see MiLB in a beautiful facility in a beautiful location. With concessions prices relatively inexpensive as well, the Flying Tigers provide the perfect opportunity for a family to visit a minor league ballpark that isn’t a nightmare to get to and is relatively close to two of Florida’s biggest cities.

Extras 3

The stadium features a statue outside the main entrance of Publix founder George Jenkins and Joker Marchant, the city of Lakeland’s longtime parks and recreation director, for whom the stadium is named.

You can also find both the starting lineups and a painted map of all of Florida’s Spring Training and MiLB teams on the walls of the main concourse.

Finally, the stadium also features player autograph sessions before some games, meaning fans can get to meet some of tomorrow’s stars today.

Final Thoughts

Publix Field at Joker Merchant Stadium is a beautiful facility thanks to its latest renovation. The Flying Tigers are a team that tends to get lost in the shuffle of Florida’s bustling sports world, but no less deserves a visit. Located perfectly between Orlando and Tampa, this facility is close enough to both stadiums to be a short drive while also a nice break from city life. Easily one of the best facilities in the Florida State League, things are looking up for the Flying Tigers.

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Food and Drink Recommendations

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

101 N Kentucky Ave

Lakeland, FL 33801

(863) 686-2228

http://hookedonharrys.com/


Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub

111 S Kentucky Ave

Lakeland, FL 33801

(863) 686-6231

http://mollymchughs.com/


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Entertainment Recommendations

Circle B Bar Reserve

4399 Winter Lake Rd

Lakeland, FL 33803

(863) 534-7377

https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/circlebbarreserve.html


Lake Mirror Complex

121 S. Lake Ave

Lakeland, FL 33801

(863) 834-2280

https://www.lakelandgov.net/departments/parks-recreation/lake-mirror-complex/


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Lodging Recommendations

 

La Quinta Inn & Suites Lakeland East

4315 Lakeland Park Dr

Lakeland, FL 33809

(863) 815-0606

http://www.laquintalakelandeast.com/?cid=local_4036


 

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lakeland North – I-4

4500 Lakeland Park Dr

Lakeland, FL 33809

(863) 595-4500

https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/lakeland/lalld/hoteldetail


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Stadium Info

Joker Marchant Stadium

2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd

Lakeland, FL 33805

Lakeland Flying Tigers website

Joker Marchant Stadium website

Year Opened: 1966

Capacity: 8,500

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