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By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000

Tigers sign pact with Lakeland

LAKELAND -- The Detroit Tigers and city officials reached a 15-year agreement that will keep the team's spring training site in Lakeland, contingent on the city receiving state funding to improve the team's facilities.

The team and city reached the agreement Friday, just in time for the city to make the deadline for applying with the state for a $4.59-million grant. Polk County's Tourist Development Council also will provide $2-million, and Lakeland will commit $3.4-million in cash and work by city crews.

In return, the team will give the city a percentage of its spring training revenue, up to $300,000 annually.

Facing competition from Arizona and Nevada, which are trying to lure teams west, the Legislature agreed earlier this year to make money available to improve Florida's spring training sites. The money can only be given to local governments and teams that have 15-year agreements.

"The threat of teams leaving is very real," said Bill Tinsley, Lakeland parks and recreation director. "This deal was our best effort."

ATHLETICS: Outfielder Ben Grieve was back in the lineup after taking Friday off because of neck pain.

MARINERS: A Lou Piniella-managed team has never failed to win a division title after holding the lead in September -- with his teams finishing on top at Cincinnati in 1990 and with the Mariners in 1995 and 1997. ... The 145 RBI by Edgar Martinez are the most by a player 37 or older, with Babe Ruth second with 137 in 1932.

ASTROS: Larry Dierker, who led Houston to three straight NL Central titles before this season's demise, will return next season as manager. Dierker has two years remaining on his contract at $750,000 per season.

PHILLIES: The team is set to fire manager Terry Francona after today's season finale at Florida, according to Philadelphia's WCAU-TV. Phillies general manager Ed Wade declined comment. Francona has led the team to a losing record in each of his four seasons, compiling a 285-362 mark.

MARLINS: Luis Castillo's home run Friday was his first at home, ending a streak of 800 at-bats without a homer at Pro Player Stadium.

METS: Al Leiter, the possible Game 1 starter Wednesday against San Francisco, will skip his scheduled start today. Rick Reed will start instead, and pitch just two innings, manager Bobby Valentine said.

REDS: Thanks to the acquisition of Ken Griffey, Cincinnati broke the major-league road attendance record held by the 1993 Braves. The Reds played in front of 37 sellout crowds and a total of 2,968,541 fans, 24,000 more than the Braves with one sellout to go today. The sellout of 47,099 was the 36th at Busch Stadium this season.

WHITE SOX: Mike Sirotka had hoped his next session in the bullpen would be a warmup for his start in Game 1 of the playoffs. Instead, he'll throw on the side today to test his sore elbow and see if he'll be able to pitch. "Right now I'm optimistic because my range of motion is good."

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