Fans looking to see more baseball on tribal land will have to wait longer to hear the crack of the bat as the Major League Baseball lockout continues, with the start of the 2022 Spring Training exhibition season being postponed.
The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the MLB are still far apart on issues such as salary arbitration and revenue sharing.
Pitchers and catchers were set to report on February 15 or 16, but those dates passed without player workouts. The annual Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies home opener was scheduled for February 26.
At press time, spring training was officially delayed until at least March 5.
Chris Bonnell, director of marketing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, said that Salt River Fields still is preparing for spring training, no matter when it starts.
“We are making improvements to the overall fan experience with new food and drink options inside the ballpark, and we are preparing our staff for the arrival of baseball fans,” said Bonnell.
In February, Arizona Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher said in a presentation that, according to an Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business study, the 2020 Cactus League Spring Training season had a total economic impact of $364 million, down from $644 million in 2018. The economic impact was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; only 139 of 237 games were played in 2020, when the season was cancelled on March 12. In 2018, a full spring training season was played.
The study also showed that the 2020 season created 3,202 annual jobs, paying $128.3 million, down from 6,439 annual jobs paying $224.6 million in 2018. As for the total attendance of all spring training games in the Cactus League: 912,956 fans attended in 2020, an average of 6,568 per game, which was a drop from the average of 7,900 per game and 1,737,975 total attendance in 2019.