TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Sports Foundation, the Detroit Tigers and Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing will host the annual Governor’s Baseball Dinner Thursday, February 16.

Considered the kick off to Florida’s Spring Training season, the event will be held at the newly renovated Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.

Top executives from around the Florida Grapefruit League and numerous state and local officials are expected to attend.

"We are honored to host the Governor's Baseball Dinner, an annual spring training baseball tradition," said Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing Director Mark Jackson. “Polk County has a more than 80 year relationship with Major League Baseball in general and the Detroit Tigers in particular, and we are proud that this event will unveil the improvements to Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium to the world.”

The Governor’s Baseball Dinner annually celebrates the opening of the Florida Grapefruit League season in Florida. The State of Florida is a frontrunner in Spring Training Baseball dating back to 1888 when the Washington Senators came south to Jacksonville. Speakers will include Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, Lance Parrish and Jack Morris.

The Tigers and Lakeland enjoy the longest relationship in Major League Baseball Spring Training. This will be the 81st year the Tigers take to the field in Polk County. More than $40 million in improvements have been completed over the past year, including more shaded areas, additional box seats, new player amenities, added concession stands and a Margaritaville Deck, as well as a new scoreboard and sound system.