Spring Training fans bring money to Mesa businesses

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MESA, Ariz. -- For baseball's faithful, spring's first crack of the bat is a beautiful thing. But tight financial times can mean low turnout at spring training. But so far this season, sales are looking good.

"Now that the team showed up yesterday, sales are starting to boom and get bigger like it always does this time of year," said Mark Gallo, the manager at Hohokam Stadium.

He said ticket sales are on par with last year, which were down a bit, but not devastating. It helps that there are so many fans like Judy Pizza for whom games and gear are a must.

"It's a tradition. I wait for the store to open and I usually buy myself a new shirt," she said.

But even some casual fans like Mike Richmond say they'll spend more time and money in the Valley this year.

"I think we are," he said. "We're going to several different places we haven't been in the past, like we're going to Tortilla Flats today."

Sure, that's optimistic, but Cubs fans always are.

"Hopefully people will have a little bit more money in their pockets to spread around," said Cubs fan Mark Lancaster.

And if they're right, the ballpark and hopefully some other Valley businesses will see it in their bottom line.