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Phoenix ranked a top 10 spring break destination, Mesa on the rise

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PHOENIX — “Mexico and Florida can keep their beaches, we want baseball!”

Phoenix was the fourth-most visited spring break travel destination in the U.S., according to number crunchers at travel site Orbitz.com.

Mesa, Ariz. was recognized as an emerging contender — the suburb has seen a 70 percent increase in tourists over the past five years.

The site’s travel blog analyzed flights and hotel bookings and said that many Americans are looking for “more relaxing alternatives to historically popular spring break locations.”

“Thirty-nine percent of travelers said they were looking for a spring break destination they haven’t been to before,” the report said.

Orbitz said the Valley can thank spring training for the large spring-time crowds. On Friday, the Chicago Cubs set a Cactus League attendance record in their first home game at Sloan Park in Mesa: 15,446 butts in seats.

Sloan has a listed capacity of 15,000, making it the largest spring training stadium in existence. After the Cub’s 97-win season last year, it’s almost a no-brainer to leave the chilly Midwest for sunshine and ball-games.

The site also found that 61 percent of Americans are traveling with spouses, family or children. Whether your family is visiting for spring break or you plan on heading out (crowd-haters, we don’t blame you), make sure to plan for the mass visitation.

March is the busiest time of the year for Phoenix Sky Harbor. The airport is planning on an average of 140,000 people to come through, 30 percent more than usual, so officials warn you to arrive two hours before your flight.

Orlando was the top spring break destination, while Panama City, Panama was the fastest growing.