What’s The Economic Impact Of Arizona Cactus League Baseball Season?

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, March 2, 2020 - 6:25pm
Updated: Friday, October 30, 2020 - 12:48pm

Every year, Arizona hosts 15 Major League Baseball teams for spring training, and the Cactus League games play a significant role in the state’s economy.

When the Cactus League formed in 1947, it included two teams: the Cleveland Indians played in Tucson and the New York Giants in Phoenix.  Today, the League hosts 15 teams at 10 facilities across the Valley

Cactus League

A study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business found the 2018 season generated an economic impact of $644.2 million. The figure represents direct impacts like restaurants serving customers, indirect impacts like restaurants buying food from distributors and induced impacts like restaurant employees spending money from tourists on rent, and groceries.

The survey of non-resident fans found more than six out of every 10 respondents said the Cactus League is the only or primary factor for their visit.

For out-of-area visitors that stay at least one night, the median stay is four nights. According to the report, Milwaukee Brewers fans coming from outside the Valley stay the longest (6.5 median nights) while Anaheim Angels and San Diego Padres fans have the shortest stay (3 median nights). 

More than 23% of Cactus League visitors stayed with friends and family for free and around 4% identified as snowbirds. The median number of games attended by fans in 2018 was 3 regardless of whether they came from out-of-state or Arizona. Each time a person attended a game, the person was counted as a fan for nearly 1.8 million total attendance.

Other study highlights:

  • The Colorado Rockies drew the highest percentage of out-of-state visitors.
  • The median party trip for total spending was $1,860.
  • The median out-of-area total party size was 3.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers have the largest out-of-area total travel party median (4 people).
  • The Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds have the smallest out-of-area travel party median (2 people).