SBD/March 6, 2013/Facilities

Cactus League Host Cities Lose Money On MLB Spring Training Stadiums

Eight of the nine cities that hosted Cactus League teams last year “lost money on their stadiums and practice facilities, with combined deficits of more than" $10M annually, according to a front-page piece by Seligman & Corbett of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The Cactus League, with an “average of 221 games the past five years, generates tens of millions of dollars at the ballparks throughout the season, but the teams take the lion’s share of game revenue.” The cities also “pay the majority of the costs to maintain the ballparks, watering and mowing the grass and meticulously grooming the fields.” Mesa "has lost an average" of $1.47M annually over the past five years hosting the Cubs at Hohokam Stadium and Fitch Park. Phoenix "lost an average" of $1.7M over five years hosting the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and an additional $1.8M "annually at Maryvale Baseball Park” for the Brewers. Peoria, Ariz., "lost an average" of $1.63M annually over the past five years hosting the Padres and the Mariners. Cactus League officials argue that the cities’ investment in baseball for "spring and year-round training" generates more than $600M annually for the state’s economy. City officials added that the stadiums are “used for much more than spring training.” Most ballparks are “rented out to third-party users year-round to help offset the costs to run the multimillion-dollar facilities and serve as sites for community engagement and activities.” The ballparks are also used for "holiday gatherings and other special events.” Goodyear’s Fourth of July fireworks show “draws about 15,000 people,” while Salt River Fields hosts “a Halloween hot-air-balloon festival.” Peoria Sports Facilities Manager Chris Calcaterra said, “Revenue maker? Probably not. But community enhancer? Absolutely. Cliche as it may sound, we build memories” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/6).
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