MLB's labor fight means economic concerns for spring training host city Glendale

By Matthew Casey
Published: Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 6:14pm
Updated: Friday, December 3, 2021 - 7:30am

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Camelback Ranch spring training
Camelback Ranch in Glendale.

A top West Valley official says his city is very worried about the local economic impact of Major League Baseball’s labor dispute.

Management called its version of a strike on employees less than three months before the 2022 Cactus League season is scheduled to be played in 10 Phoenix-area ballparks.

Glendale’s yearly bill for its spring training venue, Camelback Ranch, is about $17 million. There’s a roughly month-long window to recapture the money.

City Manager Kevin Phelps said doing so depends on out-of-state visitors because full hotels and packed restaurants are the only way for owning a spring training complex to make financial sense. 

“I have to question as to whether or not that even concerns Major League Baseball. But I will tell you it is very concerning to the city of Glendale,” he said. “Based on the fact we get all of the risk, but don’t seem to be in true partnerships with MLB in terms of helping to moderate those risk.”

Phelps said the labor fight in pro baseball has local cities with Cactus League stadiums facing a third straight year of drastically reduced tourism dollars. The pandemic’s effect on spring training was beyond the control of MLB.

“But a labor agreement is something that is clearly within their control,” said Phelps.

MLB declined to comment on Phelps’ statements.

In a letter announcing the lockout to fans, the commissioner said delaying a labor stoppage would only further endanger spring training.

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