More than a million out-of-state spring training fans are expected to visit the Valley next year and Gilbert wants to be on their roster.
"What we want people to do is use Gilbert as their home base for travel throughout metro Phoenix and throughout Arizona," said Glenn Schlottman, the town's newly hired tourism administrator.
Aside from adding Schlottman's position, the town is spending around $100,000 more on tourism efforts this year. Gilbert launched a digital advertising campaign that used geofencing to strategically target baseball fans at Chicago's Wrigley Field and Oakland's Oakland Coliseum. Both the Cubs and Athletics have spring training facilities within a 20-minute drive of Gilbert.
Schlottman said two hotels that are now under construction will add to the 700 hotel rooms currently available.
"Right now our occupancy rates are the highest in the east Valley," he said.
According to the Cactus League Baseball Association, out-of-state spring training visitors have a $544-million economic impact.
Since Gilbert doesn't have a spring training ballpark, Schlottman and his team are hoping to lure fans to explore places like Agritopia, the Riparian Preserve and the growing number of bars and restaurants between games. Over the past five years, 26 new restaurants have opened in the downtown Heritage District.
"It's a good time to keep that energy going and see what we can do," he said.