Spring training in Phoenix pumps $632 million into the local economy year-round, according to studies released by the Cactus League Baseball Association and Elliott D. Pollack & Co.
The study found that 56 percent of the 1.7 million fans attending games this past spring were out-of-state visitors and the median stay in metro Phoenix was 5.3 nights.
Spring training accounted for $422 million in economic impact in 2012, up 36 percent from the previous study in 2007. Both were done by FMR Associates of Tucson.
A related study by Elliott D. Pollack & Co., the first of its kind, estimated that use of the 10 Cactus League ballparks and 15 baseball training complexes boosted the local economy by $210 million. That included community events and festivals.
The contention in these studies is that spending generated by spring training extends to spending throughout the year, as spring-training visitors from Colorado and Washington are also likely to return to the area for a fall or winter vacation. Admittedly, this sort of spending is harder to track than spending on spring training in March.
The economic impact of spring training -- and the larger issue of spending on sports -- has been hotly debated in Phoenix-area communities for the last several years, as debates rage over spending scarce government dollars on baseball. The study should give some cover to those who argue spring training is an important component of tourism spending.
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