By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
February 15, 2013
While Spring Training began last week, the economics of Major League Baseball’s preseason have been changing dramatically for years. What started as a predominantly Florida-based exhibition has turned into a battle between the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona.
These days, both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues have 15 teams, and every time a team’s Spring Training stadium lease expires, they leverage Florida and Arizona against each other for their inevitable new home. The reason? Spring Training is a big business. Florida generates $750 million in revenue annually from Spring Training, while Arizona brings in $350 million.
Though Spring Training’s roots will always be in Florida, the Cactus League has one significant advantage that’s resulted in teams heading west in recent years. The league’s 10 ballparks all are within 30 miles of downtown Phoenix, which cuts traveling expenses for teams and makes seeing games more convenient for fans.