"I am humbled and flattered to have this outstanding and totally unexpected honor conferred on me," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "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."
Steinbrenner moved his team's Spring Training site to Tampa in 1996, and since has had a sizable impact on the community. That's why both the Hillsborough County Commission and the Tampa City Council unanimously recommended and supported the name change.
"Our father has always made clear how much he values Tampa's role in playing host to the New York Yankees' Spring Training and the Tampa Yankees," Steinbrenner's sons Hank and Hal said in a statement. "The outpouring of community support for this name change has been wonderful to watch, and we're very grateful for the acknowledgment of his achievements and contributions it represents."
The undeniable face of the Yankees for decades after he bought the team in 1973, Steinbrenner was the most prominent -- and often the most controversial -- figure in the Yankees family. Yet his involvement with the team has waned in recent years due to lingering health issues, and the team's day-to-day ownership operations have since fallen to his sons, Hank and Hal.
Still, his impact on the Yankees is clear every day, while his impact on the city of Tampa remains just as striking. A drive past Legends Field certainly confirms that.
Built in 1996 to provide a new Spring Training site for the Yankees, as well as a home for the Class A Tampa Yankees, Legends Field has since become a Florida attraction in its own right. The 11,000-seat stadium remains one of the jewels of the Grapefruit League, with this year's renovations including a new party deck in right field.
Steinbrenner's impact on Tampa, however, extends far beyond the stadium. Since the move, the Yankees have established a strong baseball operations arm in the city, and have run many of their executive decisions through that branch.
Tampa has become an important outpost for the Yankees, and in turn, the Steinbrenner family has pledged much of its time and money to the community. Even before Legends Field was built, Steinbrenner helped establish the Gold Shield Foundation in Hillsborough County, which ensures that the families of police officers and firefighters killed during duty can receive financial assistance and tuition-free college educations. It's just one of many charitable efforts that have come to mark his time in Tampa.
To that end, the renaming of Legends Field is as much a tribute to Steinbrenner the man as it is to Steinbrenner the magnate.
"Speaking on behalf of the entire family, we couldn't be more pleased," Hank and Hal Steinbrenner said in the statement. "We have been residents of Tampa for over 30 years, and we feel this is a terrific way to honor our father's longstanding philanthropic commitment to Tampa."