January 18, 2005... Phoenix - Another Cactus League season filled with homeruns, double plays and sunshine is fast-approaching. And, with a record 1.24 million fans having attended Spring Training in Greater Phoenix in 2004, another strong showing at the gate is expected this year.
"We hope to duplicate our record-breaking season this year," said J.P. de la Montaigne, president of the Cactus League. "It's a new year and a new season, but we fully expect the same heavy dose of great weather and excited fans this March."
More and more fans are sharing the enjoyment of the Cactus League, which last year entered its second half-century of competition. In 1954, the first collection of teams to train in the Sonoran Desert included the Orioles, Indians, Giants and Cubs
"Interest in Spring Training baseball just keeps getting bigger and bigger," de la Montaigne said. "Our fans are enjoying their experience even more with all there is to do, and the economic impact to the state and our cities is tremendous."
In 2003, when the last study was performed, the combined direct expenditures of 2003 Cactus League attendees was estimated at $110,012,434, which yielded a total attendee-based impact of $201,608,787. More than half the fans who attend Spring Training games in Greater Phoenix are from outside the state of Arizona.
There's no better way to experience baseball than in the confines of a Spring Training ballpark in Greater Phoenix, where smaller stadiums and a more relaxed atmosphere make it easy to get up close to the stars of tomorrow and the biggest names in the game.
Spring Training games offer perfect opportunities for fans to get autographs and snag foul balls. And, Spring Training tickets are affordable, with seats as low as $5 - so families can take in all the action together.
With March temperatures that average in the mid-70s, fans will enjoy 30 days of baseball at seven ballparks located throughout Greater Phoenix.
"All seven of the ballparks are within a 45-minute drive of each other," de la Montaigne said.
"The teams practice every morning at their home ballpark, and what a great experience for young and older alike to see these outstanding professionals up close. Of course, the players are always in a great mood because they're all tied for first place each March."
Cactus League fans can take in favorites such as the A's, Cubs and Giants. Not to mention the Angels, who won the American League West title and add to the influx of excitement.
The Brewers, Mariners, Padres, Rangers and Royals
also train in Greater Phoenix, and another three teams train in Tucson for a grand total of 12 Cactus League teams.
There's more good news for fans who attend Cactus League Spring Training...Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport serves more U.S. destinations (84) with low-fare service than any other airport, baseball fans can reach Greater Phoenix affordably.
Every March, baseball fans from across the globe visit Greater Phoenix for leisurely afternoons filled with memories and enjoyment - not to mention evenings that include superb culinary treats and exciting nightlife and entertainment.
Visitors also take pleasure in cool mornings at one of more than 200 area golf courses, rejuvenate their spirit at one of more than a dozen
full-service spas, or immerse themselves in Southwestern and Native American culture and attractions.
Outdoor adventure opportunities include hot-air balloon rides, desert Jeep tours, hiking, biking, rock climbing and more.
Greater Phoenix Spring Training facilities include Hohokam Park in Mesa (Cubs), Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix (Brewers), Peoria Sports Complex (Mariners and Padres), Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A's), Surprise Center (Rangers and Royals), Tempe Diablo Stadium (Angels) and Scottsdale Stadium (Giants).
The 52nd season of Cactus League baseball kicks off on March 2, and there are a handful of games every day through the end of March. Who knows, you could be watching the next World Series champs!
For additional information on the Phoenix area, or to book hotel rooms
online, log on to the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau's website at www.visitphoenix.com
The GPCVB is a non-profit organization that markets Greater Phoenix as a year-round convention and visitor destination. More than 13 million people visit Phoenix annually, contributing more than $6 billion to the area's economy. Tourism in Greater Phoenix also accounts for approximately 225,000 jobs.
Source for Spring Training Attendance Figures: the Cactus League.
Sources for above monetary and visitor totals include: U.S. Dept. of
Commerce, Statistics Canada, D.K. Shifflet and Associates, Behavioral Research Center, Inc. and Elliott D. Pollack & Company. Source for employment data: the Arizona Hospitality Research and Resource Center at Northern Arizona University (2001).