The 2018 Cactus League season generated $373 million for Arizona’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Researchers surveyed out-of-state visitors who came to Arizona for games at all 10 Cactus League ballparks and measured only new dollars that flowed into the state due to spring training. A GDP by State estimate is used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis as the primary indicator of the economic health of a specific geography.

Previous Cactus League studies have reported output as the primary measure of economic impact. In 2015, a study found that the Cactus League generated a $544.3 million total output; the corresponding total output figure for 2018 is $644.2 million, an 11 percent increase on the 2015 output estimate in real terms.

“This is a grand slam for Arizona’s economy,” Cactus League President Jeff Meyer said. “These figures tell the story of spring training’s awesome power as a tourism engine — and we need to ensure that the industry continues to remain robust. We are grateful to Major League Baseball and the host communities for their partnership and to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority for providing funding for ballpark construction and renovation.”

The study found that the Cactus League created 6,439 annual jobs paying $224.6 million in 2018. Spring training also directly generated a total of $31.9 million in taxes for the state ($24.2 million) and local governments ($7.7 million).

Founded with two teams in 1947, the Cactus League has grown to 15 Major League Baseball teams training at 10 facilities across Maricopa County. In 2018, 223 Cactus League games drew a total of 1,796,403 fans, an average of 7,710 per game.

The 2018 Cactus League season was shorter than in previous years, but the economic impact it generated was massive. Six out of 10 fans came from out of state, providing a boost to Arizona’s tourism sector. Arizona State University researchers interviewed 3,910 Cactus League attendees.

The survey found a statewide benefit, with 26 percent of fans reporting that they would visit another part of Arizona during their trip.

“The Cactus League is a game-changer for Arizona’s tourism industry,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Generations of baseball fans have fallen in love with Arizona — and Arizona loves to welcome them back every spring.”

The median Cactus League visitor attends three games, spends four nights in Arizona and spends $405 per day, according to the study.

“The Cactus League’s $373 million contribution to Arizona’s Gross Domestic Product is a dividend of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority’s investment in spring training facility construction and renovation,” said Scarlett Spring, chair of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority board. “As a state, we must remember that spring training is a competitive industry that cannot be taken for granted. We congratulate the Cactus League for consistently delivering on the promise made to Maricopa County voters when they approved Prop. 302.”

The numbers provide a snapshot of a vital force in Arizona’s economy, according to the study’s author, Dr. Anthony Evans of the L. William Seidman Research Institute.

“We have studied the economic impact of major sporting events in Arizona like the Super Bowl and the Final Four, and while they create massive economic impact, they occur here intermittently,” Evans said. “The Cactus League brings in impact of this magnitude every year. It is phenomenal - and it happens every spring in this state.”

The Cactus League is measuring the year-round economic impact of the 10 ballparks and will announce those figures at a later date.

By the numbers: Cactus League economic impact

Here is a closer look at some of the key figures in the 2018 Cactus League Economic and Fiscal Impact Report by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business:

How do Cactus League visitors spend their money?

This table breaks down the expenditures of out-of-state visitors to the Cactus League.

Expenditure Type Estimate (Millions $)
Lodging/accommodation    $89.8
Bars and restaurants         $122.6
Groceries                          $22.3
Souvenirs and gifts            $34.7
Other entertainment          $22.4
Local transportation           $3.6 
Rental cars                        $11.5 
Gasoline                            $6.4 
Other                                $2.5 
Total                                 $315.7 

How much do Cactus League visitors spend?
This chart shows the median daily spending per party for out-of-state visitors.
                                      2015      2018
Under $100                        5%      8.6%
$100 to $199.99                12%    13.3%
$200 to $299.99                16%    13.3%
$300 to $499.99                32%    23.7%
$500+                               35%    41.0%
Median Daily Spending       $393    $405

How long do out-of-area Cactus League visitors stay?
“Other AZ” represents Arizona residents from outside Maricopa County; “Other U.S.” is U.S. residents from outside Arizona.
                     2015    2018    Other AZ    Other U.S.    International
Day Trip          4%      5.3%     90.9%         0.6%             2.4%
1 to 2 nights   16%    16.1%     5.3%         16.0%            26.1%
3 to 4 nights   29%    35.5%     2.3%         38.7%            18.2%
5 to 6 nights   20%    17.9%     0.8%         19.1%            14.5%
7 to 8 nights   13%    11.3%     0.8%         12.1%             7.9%
9+ nights       18%     13.8%       -             13.4%            30.9%
Median (excludes day trippers) 
                       5          4            2                4                    5
How many prior Cactus League seasons have fans attended?
This chart shows that 28 percent of 2018 Cactus League fans attended their first game that year. It also shows that more than a third of all fans have been attending for five or more seasons.
2015            2018     Metro     Phoenix     Out-of-Area
None              8%     28.1%     18.5%         32.8%
1 Season       23%      7.8%       6.9%          8.2%
2 Seasons      16%    10.2%       8.2%         11.3%
3 Seasons      13%    11.6%      11.3%        11.7%
4 Seasons        7%      7.7%        8.4%          7.4%
5+ Seasons    33%    34.4%      46.6%        28.4%
Don’t Know/Refused 
                      0%       0.2%       0.2%          0.2%
Median Seasons 
                      2.3        3.0          4.0              2.0

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