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Spring Training Notes: Local Economy Benefits

Tempe, AZ: I have been to many Spring Training games, but they have all been in Florida, this is the first time I have covered games in what’s known as the Cactus League in Arizona and traveling throughout the state from downtown Phoenix I realized that this entire part of the country is literally a desert. Cactus and more everywhere. Special cactus plants and cactus varieties are the only flowers you see throughout because any other flower would probably need too much water to stay alive and that is something that Arizona does not have a lot of. In the early mornings it’s cool enough to have to wear a sweater, or light jacket, but by 12 noon and up to about 6 PM the sun reminds you that you are in a desert. In the evening you are once again reminded that deserts are somewhat colder in the evening.

I share these Arizona details because I also realized how difficult it must have been to establish Major League Training facilities in this state. I realized how important Major League Baseball is to states like Arizona. MLB has approximately 11 Major league ball parks scattered within the outskirts of Phoenix. I have had the pleasure to visit 6 of the ball parks and I must admit that each small stadium and its adjoining training fields and complexes do a lot for the local economy. It’s obvious that many communities have developed around the baseball complexes. Every park I visited had residential communities neighboring the baseball parks. Several had construction taking place building more housing.  Each park is unique, some quaint, and all fan friendly and comfortable

I met and spoke to several fans that come to the stadium on a regular basis, it’s their local pastime. Like Florida, Arizona is a retired community’s step to heaven. The teams also hire many of the local seniors who look forward to Spring Training as a part time job and great hobby to keep many of them occupied. I spoke to Bill an 84-year-old working the picnic section of the Angels Devil Stadium. He is like the eyes and ears to an added security. He loves what he does and told me that he’s been doing this for four years and loves it.  People like Bill and 70-year-old Curtis another employee who helps people find their seats who has been working Spring Training for eight years help give these ball parks a true family-oriented feel. Every senior employee I spoke to loves their job, loved their superiors and the management. They made it clear that they would not miss working Spring Training for the world.

I have always said that Spring Training games are more family friendly and fun than the regular season games in the major league stadiums. It’s watching a ball game with present and future baseball stars while you are taking a suntan, drinking a beer, or beverage relaxing in the stands, or laying in the picnic areas watching the games while the kids and grandkids are running around trying to catch a ball.

I spoke to three women sitting behind me all watching the game and taking selfies. I noticed that unlike many of the other fans they were not wearing any team apparel, or color identifying themselves with a team. I asked them who were they rooting for and they told me they come to the ballpark because they are neighbors and as such they like to support.

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