We are just a few weeks away from MLB teams reporting to their respective camps in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training. That has not changed in spite of the fact that COVID-19 is still raging throughout the country, but especially in those two states.
Unfortunately for the businesses and restaurants in Arizona, this Spring Training will look much different than in years past. As of right now, there is little hope that fans will be able to attend those MLB Spring games in any capacity. That means that the tourist industry is set to take a massive hit in Arizona for the 2021 season. Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps spoke with the LA Times about that possibility and what it does to Arizona.
It’s really the fans that built the business case for why you would want to spend $200 million on a spring training complex. Without those fans staying in your hotel rooms and eating in your restaurants and shopping in your stores, spring training quickly becomes one of the worst business decisions you can make.
Facing that possibility has led to Arizona officials asking that MLB pushes back the start of Spring Training. The hope from them is that it will allow time for enough fans to get the COVID-19 vaccination in order to allow them to attend games.
I would be surprised if there wasn’t broad support from all the facilities to push it back a month. I think everybody does agree, as we get more and more people vaccinated and we get through the holiday surge, that it would be easier to manage this in April rather than in March.
The likelihood of MLB actually pushing back Spring Training games seems like a reach this close to the start date. The first slate of games is set to take place on February 27th, just six weeks from now. Pushing games back a full month would mean that the league would need to push back the regular-season.
If Rob Manfred is serious about getting all 162-games in as he said recently, pushing back Spring Training is just not an option.
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