The return of America’s national pastime could give Florida this major boost

Feb 29, 2024

The start of baseball season is right around the corner, with spring training underway.

Hope springs eternal for teams preparing for opening day. 

And the return of America’s national pastime could give Florida this major boost.

The first games of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) spring training are underway in Florida and Arizona.

Baseball fans from around the country are traveling to these sunny states to see their favorite teams get ready for the pennant chase. 

There are 15 teams playing in Florida’s Grapefruit League, while another 15 are training in the Cactus League in Arizona.

The return of spring training is going to provide a boost to the states’ economies as fans return to the games.

Spring training disrupted by the pandemic and labor disputes

The spring of 2023 marked the first normal training camp for MLB in years with full fan participation.

Spring training was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and in 2021 crowds were limited due to pandemic restrictions.

The opening of camp in 2022 was delayed and abbreviated after a labor dispute between the MLB Players Association union and the owners.

So, 2023 was the first normal spring training for baseball since 2019.

“We were thrilled to come back to a regular environment last season and we’re just planning on continuing to ride that momentum and move in the right direction for the 2024 season,” Cactus League executive director Bridget Binsbacher told Fox Business. 

Spring training provides economic boost for Florida and Arizona

Fans traveling to Arizona and Florida are providing a boost for the local economies.

The warm climates help attract fans who are looking for a break from winter as well as the chance to catch their favorite team in a smaller, more intimate setting.

Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business found that the 2023 Cactus League season generated $710.2 million in economic activity and added $418.5 million to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The school’s study found that about 60% of the fans attending the games came from out of state.

A total of 1,565,182 fans attended 216 games during the 2023 Cactus League season.

“It doesn’t just impact the host cities where our facilities are located across the valley, it truly does impact all of Arizona so they’re coming for spring training but we know from our economic impact study and the thousands of out-of-state fans that we survey that they’re enjoying Arizona from Tombstone to the Grand Canyon so it’s tremendous,” Binsbacher added.

The Arizona State study polled 3,386 out-of-state attendees who went to Cactus League games to find that they stayed an average of four nights and spent more than $400 a day.

“Florida’s Grapefruit League brought in 1,425,259 fans in 237 games last season, with an average attendance of 6,014 fans per game. Although figures for 2023 aren’t available, a 2022 survey showed a total economic impact of $679.8 million on the Florida economy in the fiscal years of 2019-20 and 2020-21,” Fox Business reported.

Spring training is another chance to bring tourists to Florida to see baseball’s biggest stars.

DeSantis Daily will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.

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