Cactus League ‘ready to open,’ hopeful for spring training

Mar 4, 2022, 3:05 PM

San Diego Padres fans watch the Cactus League spring training baseball game between the San Diego P...

San Diego Padres fans watch the Cactus League spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 02, 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

The Cactus League said in a statement posted to its website on Friday that it was “disappointed” in the stalled labor negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, yet hopeful and ready for spring training to commence in the Phoenix metro area.

“This much we do know: the 10 Cactus League ballparks will be ready to open when needed. During the last two seasons, our facilities have learned to be prepared for unforeseen challenges. We remain hopeful of a settlement and look forward to welcoming the teams and their fans back to Arizona soon,” the statement said.

The Cactus League suffered large economic losses when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered spring in mid-March 2020. While spring training went forward last year, crowd sizes were reduced due to social distancing recommendations.

But before the 2022 season, MLB approaches 100 days of a lockout after the prior Collective Bargaining Agreement with players ended.

From an economic standpoint, the greater Phoenix area could again lose out on millions of dollars with a shortened spring schedule.

A study from Arizona State University found that the Cactus League’s season generated an estimated economic impact of $363.6 million in 2020 before the shutdown in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That figure was down nearly $300 million from the estimated $644.2 million generated in 2018. There was no data for 2021 because the study is done every other year, and Cactus League venues were limited in capacity due to the ongoing pandemic.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday that he had spoken with MLB leaders and believed spring training games will occur in Arizona.

“I am told by the league we will have spring training games here,” Ducey told The Mike Broomhead Show. “They do have to train before they go back to their markets, and we want to host it here in Arizona, of course.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday announced that the first two series of the regular season will be canceled after the MLBPA rejected the league’s latest offer.

“I’ve expressed my voice to Major League Baseball,” Ducey said. “These guys need to figure this out. It’s time to say ‘play ball,’ let’s have spring training.

“I did talk to the commissioner. It was a productive conversation. We want baseball here. We want every single club and every single player here. Life is back to normal, Arizona is wide open and we want to host spring training. So I’m calling on these guys to get the deal done.”

MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem and chief union negotiator Bruce Meyer met for 1.5 hours Thursday and discussed the major issues in the stalled talks to reach a deal that would end the lockout.

Union general counsel Ian Penny and MLB executive vice president Morgan Sword also participated in the session.

The players association executive board held a conference call later Thursday. There was no known decision on the timing of the next negotiating session.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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