An advertisement for 2020 spring training season tickets is shown on the scoreboard at the new Atlanta Braves spring training baseball facility on January 29, 2020 in North Port, Florida, United States. Photo: Kent E Roberts/Shutterstock.com
With the start of the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2020 spring training campaign comes hopes for a great economic boost in Florida’s economy. Along with Arizona’s Cactus League, the Grapefruit League here in the Sunshine State is counting on another successful economic boost with all the spending the fans and sponsors will do as they have done every year at this event for years now. Florida and Arizona are splitting hosting duties this year for the spring training for over 30 MLB teams. Half of the 30 or so teams play in Florida’s Grapefruit League, while the other half will play in Arizona’s Cactus League.
Spring Training in Florida’s Grapefruit League has been a tradition since the 1890s. The event offers fans, sun lovers and casual alike a multitude of treats. Fifteen Major League teams train in Florida, 12 of them are found along or essentially near the east and west coastlines and three in the center of the state. Fans can enjoy a hot-dog-filled day at many stadiums throughout the state to be able to enjoy this event.
According to an impact study performed by Arizona State University in 2018, the Arizona Cactus League generated an estimated economic impact of more than $644 million. The Cactus League supported 6,400 jobs, generated $31 million in overall tax revenue and $373 million in gross domestic profit, according to Arizona state officials. The study revealed approximately 1.77 million fans attended Cactus League games in 2018.
In 2018, the Grapefruit League also generated an economic impact of $687.1 million across 12 cities in Florida, according to a state-commissioned study conducted by Tallahassee-based Downs & St. Germain Research. The study also showed The Grapefruit League supported more than 7,000 jobs and attracted $584 million in fan spending that year.
Spring Training in Florida abounds with minor league action to accompany it. Photo: VisitFlorida.com
“We are pleased with the continued success of the Florida Grapefruit League and look forward to many more exciting opportunities to showcase the many communities in Florida, where the world comes to play,” Angela Suggs, president of the Florida Sports Foundation, said in a statement at the time.
The perceived economic benefits of The Grapefruit League are at the heart of ongoing negotiations on a state bill that would limit the use of tax revenue to cover stadium upgrades. While the bill has received widespread support among local legislators to date, some have raised concerns about the potential impact on Florida’s spring training industry.
The city of North Port, FL stepped into the spotlight of Florida’s baseball world on the night of February 16 as the Governor’s Baseball Dinner officially kicked off the annual spring training season. Hundreds of baseball and government dignitaries gathered at the city’s $140 million CoolToday Park. The 15-team Grapefruit League’s newest stadium will host its first full season as the spring home of the Atlanta Braves.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Sunday night dinner signaled the end of a weekend of celebrations welcoming the Braves, whose players reported last week to begin the annual ritual of spring training. The Braves play the first of their 17 exhibition games Saturday vs. the Baltimore Orioles at CoolToday Park.
CoolToday Park is evolving into a year-round community center for North Port, which currently lacks a city stadium. The park hosts events like farmers markets, car shows and concerts in the off-season, with the Tomahawk Tiki Bar restaurant open to the public when spring training is not in session. State College of Florida’s Venice campus, located next to the park, is also getting a boost from all the attention West Villages is generating.Spring training’s slate of exhibition games for the 2020 season kicks off later this month in both states.
Please visit Florida’s The Grapefruit League section on Major League Baseball’s website for more information about Spring Training. The Spring Training section of the MLB website will also allow you to get team schedules, tickets, ballpark information and news.
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.