Yanks to formally rename field Thursday

Yanks to dedicate field Thursday

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees will depart town on Thursday by saying goodbye to Legends Field, as the club's Spring Training facility is set to be officially renamed in honor of principal owner George M. Steinbrenner.

To be re-named "George M. Steinbrenner Field," the stadium will receive scoreboard signage in left field displaying its new moniker in a special ceremony prior to Thursday's 1:15 p.m. ET exhibition game against the Pirates.

The stadium renaming was approved in February by two unanimous resolutions from the Hillsborough County Commission and the Tampa City Council, endorsing the honoring of Steinbrenner for his many charitable donations on behalf of youth activities, hospitals and the arts.

Among Steinbrenner's most striking contributions was the founding of The Gold Shield Foundation, which ensures that the families of police officers and firemen killed in the line of duty receive early financial assistance and are guaranteed a tuition-free college education. The resolutions recognized that Steinbrenner has stepped forward at critical times to help influence and improve the local community.

"I am humbled and flattered to have this outstanding and totally unexpected honor conferred on me," Steinbrenner said in a statement on Feb. 14. "I extend my thanks to the Tampa City Council and to the Hillsborough County Commissioners for passing resolutions suggesting and recommending the change.

"I also thank my family for supporting the renaming of the stadium and for everything they have done for so many years that helped bring about this great day."

Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda and Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita will be on hand as guest speakers for the ceremony, which will feature a video presentation congratulating Mr. Steinbrenner, as well as a flyover by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department helicopters.

Mrs. Joan Steinbrenner is scheduled to throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch, representing the Steinbrenner family.

Legends Field has been the Spring Training home of the Yankees since 1996, when the team relocated from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and has the same field dimensions as Yankee Stadium in New York.

It has been recently subject to improvements and modifications, including the addition of the right-field Tampa Tribune deck that has permitted the Yankees to increase total stadium seating capacity to 11,076 for the 2008 Grapefruit League season.

Once the Yankees go north for the championship season, the facility continues to serve as a home for the Class A Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.