GLENDALE, AZ — This year was supposed to be a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Cactus League, but there may not be any spring training in Arizona if the labor dispute between the MLB and its players drags on.
The first game is scheduled for February 26.
The league's executive director, Bridget Binsbacher, said Wednesday all 10 ballparks in the Valley are ready to start on time. But leaders are concerned about possible delays.
"Everyone that understands the Cactus League and what it means to the state's economy is concerned about the impact," she said.
According to a 2018 ASU study, spring training had a $644 million impact in Arizona.
"We know of the 1.7 million people that come through these gates, 6 out of 10 come from somewhere else. So it's a driver of tourism in Arizona," said Binsbacher.
This would be the third year in a row of missing out on the economic boost spring training usually brings to Valley cities.
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said they count on out-of-state visitors. He said hotels are already seeing cancellations.
"We desperately have to have our hotels filled up and our restaurants and entertainment district at Westgate get used for this thing to come even close to making sense for our city," he said.
Phelps said the city invested $200 million upfront for Camelback Ranch-Glendale stadium. He thinks the MLB should step up to the plate to make up for lost revenue.
"To recognize the impact of three years in a row of not having a normalized spring training and perhaps put money forward to help our state tourism budget so we can replenish the visitors who didn't come here during spring training," he said. "This is an opportunity for MLB to indicate whether we really are a partner with them. Nothing worse than spending $200 million and feel like you're an afterthought."
Binsbacher said fans should check the Cactus League website for the latest updates. You can find a map of each ballpark here.
For those who bought tickets to games that end up getting delayed or canceled, Binsbacher recommends checking with the individual ballpark for its refund policy.