Major League Baseball in Arizona
Phoenix’s Cactus League Brings Pro Ball to Arizona
Arizona’s temperate spring weather has made the Valley of the Sun is a veritable nexus for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) spring training program since 1908. Currently, the region’s spring training season, known locally as the Cactus League, generates more than $300 million in regional economic impact. It is one of just two such “leagues” in the United States, the other being the Grapefruit League in Florida.
For Valley baseball fans, the Cactus League is the perfect way to watch the MLB teams they idolize play the National Pastime without travelling to the teams’ home cities or purchasing expensive regular season tickets. It also means being immersed in one of America’s great athletic traditions: the seventh-inning stretch, hotdogs, roasted peanuts and rally hats. Attendance in 2011 broke all previous attendance records, with some 1.6 million people enjoying their favorite teams.
Fifteen MLB teams frequent the area: Phoenix’s Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Socks and Cincinnati Reds.
Two Cactus League teams, the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants, went on to play in the 2010 World Series. The Rangers then returned to the World Series in 2011.
Recent Cactus League improvements in the Phoenix area include eight new stadiums and renovations to two more totaling some $500 million. Cactus League venues are dispersed throughout the Valley: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, HoHoKam Park, Camelback Ranch, Goodyear Park, Surprise Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Maryvale Baseball Park, Phoenix Municiple Stadium, Peoria Sports Complex and Scottsdale Stadium.
The latest, biggest addition to Cactus League venues is the new, $99 million spring training center in Mesa for the venerable Chicago Cubs. Recently approved by Mesa voters, the facility will serve as the ballclub’s western headquarters, as well as the focal point for player development, drafting and other operations. Tentative plans also include an entertainment/retail complex next to the facility to open in 2013. For more, visit www.cactusleague.com.