Spring Training is now well underway here in Arizona. One can always tell. The streets within five miles of one of the 13 baseball stadiums are clogged with baseball snowbirds, as are the bars and restaurants that cater to them. Were it not for the non baseball and baseball snowbirds Arizona's economy would not be as robust as it is. Still, it seems that the ones making the most money are the baseball clubs. Every one of these major league teams have cajoled a community to build them a grand spring training facility. Our cities fold and do it because they believe those baseball snow birds make the cash registers ring.....at retail stores and restaurants and sports bars. However an ominous note is creeping into spring baseball, and it's called baseball corporate greed.
Just today I heard that the average spring training ticket now costs $41.25 cents. Depending on the club, and where your seat is, that number can be lower or higher. And it doesn't take into account the money spent on stadium concessions...profits also going to the various clubs. To put that $41.25 number into perspective, I can buy a ticket to my Major League Arizona Diamondbacks games during the regular season for $25 dollars. And they throw in a free hot dog, coke and a bag of peanuts up there in the nose bleed seats.
So I can see a time in the future when the baseball snowbirds just quit coming. And why should they? They are being gouged on hotel room rates and a temporary doubling of apartment rentals during that two month period of "small baseball".
If those snowbirds were smart they would hustle out here right after the World Series. That's when Arizona hosts Arizona Fall Baseball. Those Fall League teams are flush with baseball's most promising prospects.....a league that was formed to groom their best for next year's major league season. Oh, yeah, the ticket prices to the Fall League are far more affordable.
Two million spring training fans show up every year. But I can see a time when the greedy baseball executives kill the golden goose. And that will not make these spring training cities happy. Nor the bars and restaurants.
When I moved to Arizona fifteen years ago the average spring training ticket was less than $15 bucks. And at many stadiums you could cop a squat on the grass and watch the game for three or four bucks. Times change. Greed breeds greed.
Sad. Damned Sad.