Baseball

Though shortened by COVID-19, spring training still boosted economies in Peoria, Glendale and other Cactus League hubs.

The World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox call Glendale’s Camelback Ranch home in late winter and spring. 

The San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners are the two home teams that had their seasons cut short at the Peoria Sports Complex.

In a schedule recently announced, Cactus League games are scheduled to begin Feb. 27, 2021, with the Padres and Mariners battling in Peoria, White Sox hosting the Milwaukee Brewers in Glendale and Dodgers visiting the Chicago Cubs in Mesa.

Teams that participate in spring training in Arizona were able to play 139 of 237 of the scheduled season games, according to the Cactus League. 

“The Cactus League traditionally draws its larger crowds towards the back end of the season—warming weather, local spring breaks, progressively heightening interest from baseball-savvy fans, etc.,” said Blake Englert, the community facilities and recreation manager for the city of Peoria.

Despite the shutdown, Peoria was on track to produce similar revenue as years past, Englert said. In 2018, Peoria contributed an estimated $36.9 million in revenue to the Arizona economy, Englert said. 

The revenue from Peoria was calculated by combining the income from accommodations, bars and restaurants, retail, in-state transportation, other entertainment and an “other” category, Englert said. 

The Cactus League and Arizona State University conducted a study about Arizona’s gross domestic product, or the state’s revenue from spring training, before the COVID-19 shutdown. 

“To bring that baseline context of 2018 spending to the 2020 landscape, the Cactus League was actually in the process of conducting another study through ASU when the pandemic struck,” Englert wrote. 

The study showed that the season was “on a par” with what the 2018 season contributed to the Valley’s revenue from spring training, according to the Cactus Leagues press release.

“The 2020 Cactus League season generated an estimated economic impact of $363.6 million, including a $213.7 million contribution to Arizona’s gross domestic product, before being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business,” said Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher. 

In Glendale, the new Ball Park Boulevard unveiled this year makes for a 5-minute drive from Camelback Ranch to the Westgate Entertainment District, so spring training fans visiting may spend more time—and money—in Glendale.

“The pandemic’s impact on the state’s tourism industry has made it abundantly clear that we can’t take spring training for granted. We’re grateful to our stakeholders and partners for their support of this critically important tourism driver,” Cactus League President Chris Calcaterra said.