The Cactus League has been a staple in Arizona since the late 1940s and has been a way for the state to host some of the best players — Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and Mike Trout included.
Four years removed from a global pandemic and one season after the MLB lockout, Spring Training is full steam ahead in 2023 — no holds barred.
“I am so excited,” says Bridget Binsbacher, Cactus League executive director. “I’m excited for the fans. And just based on the inquiries that we’re getting, people are so excited to experience Spring Training without restrictions.”
According to a study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business, the 2018 Cactus League season generated $373 million in Arizona’s gross domestic product.
The study also found a total economic impact of $644.2 million. Bars and restaurants benefited the most from out-of-town visitors, with an estimated expenditure of $122.6 million. The median daily spending per party for out-of-state visitors was $405, with an average four-day stay. The Cactus League will perform an updated audit of the economic impact after the 2023 Spring Training.
“Not only does that impact affect businesses and tourist attractions surrounding our facilities, but we know for a fact that people coming primarily for Spring Training,” Binsbacher says.
“And then as a result of that, they’re visiting other parts of the Valley, other parts of the state. So, the impact is spread across the Valley and across the state to surrounding cities and attractions all across Arizona. So, it’s a tremendous impact.”
But this year’s Spring Training does come with a slight hitch, the fifth World Baseball Classic will be held concurrently. Stars like Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Merrill Kelly and Jose Ramirez are opting out of the majority of Spring Training to compete for a world title with their country.
“People are (still) definitely going to see great baseball,” Binsbacher says. “If you’ve experienced Spring Training like many of us in Arizona, it’s like no other experience as far as watching baseball.
“The way we’re set up in proximity to one another in Arizona is unique to the Cactus League. People can go to the day game, a night game, see multiple games in a day in the same league because of the way we’re set up.”
Even though some of the stars won’t be in Arizona for some of Spring Training, fans should still be more than excited to get out to the ballpark to experience the greatness that is Spring Training.
“I think everybody’s excited,” Binsbacher says. “I think everyone’s ready for a normal season.”