The 76th Annual Tigers BBQ will be celebrated in the corridors of Joker Marchant Stadium on Feb. 22, giving Lakelanders the chance to warmly welcome the Detroit Tigers to the excitement of spring training. Fans can enjoy traditional Southern barbecue, drinks and take home a souvenir mug for $40 with the proceeds benefiting underprivileged local youth.
Beginning in 1947 as a backyard barbecue, the event has maintained its tradition of bringing people together, allowing the community to show appreciation for the Detroit Tigers and giving fans an opportunity to interact with some familiar faces off the diamond.
Celebrate Spring Training by grabbing your BBQ tickets today
Jacquel Johnson has been coordinating the barbecue for 41 years and remarked on how it’s grown exponentially since she started organizing the event.
“It’s just tremendous to have Major League Baseball right in our backyard in Florida,” Johnson said. “The Tigers, at the end of their current contract, will (have been) here for 100 years. It’s the longest relationship between a community and a Major League spring training team.”
Major League players show great appreciation for this event every year. Among the players who attend regularly is 11-time all-star first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Johnson remarked on Cabrera’s appreciation at one of the previous barbecues.
“Miguel stood up and thanked the community and said that he’s never seen anything quite like it,” Johnson said. “And honestly, the Tigers themselves have an entirely new organization this year, and the new people coming in said, ‘This is tremendous, we’ve never seen another community do something like this.’”
In recent years, people from around Florida have purchased tickets and come to the event to see the players before the season starts.
Typically, representatives from the City of Lakeland, Polk County Government and the Detroit Tigers welcome guests to the barbecue. The Tigers bring significant economic benefits to Polk County with their spring training contract contributing an estimated $45 million in economic impact annually for the county.
Tickets are now available on Visit Central Florida with the proceeds providing athletic opportunities for disadvantaged children through the Detroit Tigers Foundation of Florida, Inc.
At the event, fans can enjoy a barbecue buffet of smoked ribs, grilled shrimp, pulled pork and more.