Baseball Stoppage Puts Arizona, Florida Towns in Economic Limbo
(Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball’s work stoppage threatens to eat into business revenue in Sun Belt spring baseball towns.
That can be a big deal for areas like Clearwater, Florida, or Surprise, Arizona, but overall, experts agree that the states themselves will still see plenty of tourism. In total, the Arizona and Florida leagues that host spring training baseball bring about $1 billion in combined annual economic impact to their states, according to recent studies published by both leagues -- a drop in the bucket for Florida and Arizona’s economies with gross domestic products of $1.2 trillion and $400 billion, respectively.
The MLB lockout began Wednesday amid labor negotiations gone awry, the first such stoppage since the strike in 1994 and 1995. But in Florida and Arizona, visitors might simply take their business elsewhere in the state, according J.C. Bradbury, an economics professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
“Most people who come to spring training are there to do other things as well,” said Bradbury. “If it’s Florida, going to the beach, an amusement park. It’s during spring break, they’ll just find other things to do.”
The bulk of spring training attendees in Florida come from out of state, and out of that group half were visiting for vacation, according to the Florida Sports Foundation study. Nearly 60% of Arizona attendees come from another state, though “most of those fans say spring training is the sole or primary reason for visiting Arizona,” according to a Cactus League study.
As of now, spring training is scheduled to begin Feb. 28.
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