TEMPE, AZ — It's arguably the biggest event in the Valley each year. But, spring training is in danger of striking out. Locked-out players just rejected Major League Baseball's request for a federal mediator to get involved installed labor negotiations and the clock is ticking.
February in the Valley means Spring Training is quickly approaching. An on-time start to this major event, but this year it's looking like that won't be the case.
Owners locked out players on Dec. 2, immediately following the expiration of a five-year collective bargaining agreement.
There have been just three negotiating sessions on core economics since.
The lockout entering it's 65th day, Spring Training workouts are set to being February 16 and Opening Day is scheduled for March 31.
Local business owners are watching the negotiations closely.
"You know, it is very sad. It's very bad. Spring Training really impacts Scottsdale,” said Hong Bischoff who owns Bischoff’s Shades of the West.
Bischoff’s store has stood in Old Town Scottsdale 50 years.
"For businesses, it is the best month of the year. It can impact, what do I say, a half year of income,” added Bischoff.
But, she might have to put things on pause.
The business owner estimates sales during Spring Training total more than three times the sales made during the Christmas holiday.
A delayed or canceled spring training would also affect restaurants.
"It's disappointing these people could not come to an agreement. I am a baseball fan myself, so was looking forward to having something,” said Jon Maryak."
Maryak, the general manager of Salty Senorita, says the big event is a big revenue generator able to get some restaurants through the summer when many people leave town.
Some business owners acknowledge they have learned to adjust to the pandemic and will adjust again if Spring Training doesn't happen. But; the general Maryak says what they're facing now is unfortunate for the little guys.
"You got the old adage of millionaires versus billionaires playing this game. You know, they're eventually going to figure it out. But, for this town and those towns in Florida, we rely on that money,” added Maryak.
As for baseball fans, many are hoping this also doesn't impact the start of the regular season.
"So many years of lockout, strike, lockout and a strike. We know it's going to happen. In March, they are going to settle and start March 31st or April 1st. Again," said Toronto Blue Jays fan Steve Lang.