MLB lockout could devastate Arizona businesses if no agreement before spring training

Dec 3, 2021, 4:35 AM

(File photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)...

(File photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(File photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The spring training season in the Valley could be impacted for the third consecutive year in March, but this time COVID-19 won’t be at fault.

Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players association expired Wednesday night, leading MLB owners to vote for a lock out of players. The lockout is the league’s first work stoppage since 1994.

If the two sides can’t come to an agreement before spring training opening day on Feb. 26, Valley stadiums could be left empty and that worries Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher.

“There’s such depth to this impact when you look at what it means to surrounding businesses that are relying on the influx of tourism and business to their establishment as a result of spring training,” Binsbacher said, adding the Cactus League wants to be part of the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“Behind every business is a person or a family.”

Spring training brings people from all over the country to Arizona, along with a lot of money to local businesses throughout the state.

Binsbacher said a 2018 economic impact study found spring training brought in $644.2 million to the state. The Cactus League season only generated $363.6 million in 2020 when it was cut short due to the onset of COVID-19.

While the hot stove of Major League Baseball’s offseason has gone cold with the lockout, Binsbacher said the Cactus League is still going full steam ahead to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We’re not thinking about preparing for it not happening,” Binsbacher said, adding the Cactus League is prepared to pivot at the last second if needed after going through challenges brought on by the pandemic over the past two years.

“It’s hard to know even when we’ll hear what the outcome of the negotiations are, but in the meantime, we’re going to keep moving forward and doing what we’ve done year after year to prepare for opening day.”

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MLB lockout could devastate Arizona businesses if no agreement before spring training