Arizona business owners react to Spring Training delay as lockout continues

Here in the Valley, late February means one thing: it's time for spring training.
Published: Feb. 20, 2022 at 8:19 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Here in the Valley, late February means one thing: it’s time for Spring Training. But this February, that won’t be the case. Major League Baseball announced earlier this week it’ll be pushed back until at least the beginning of March due to the ongoing lockout.

“It’s a little depressing,” Social Tap Eatery Managing Partner Steve McDonald said. “Especially now with this beautiful weather.”

McDonald ramps things up at his Old Town Scottsdale restaurant in preparation for the Cactus League crowds every year. “We try to staff up the best we can, run a lot of promotions,” he said. “We spend a lot of money on marketing and letting the hotels know where to send their guests.”

Money that McDonald now hopes doesn’t go to waste as the future status of Spring Training remains in limbo. “I’m more concerned about it not happening at all,” he said. “If it gets pushed back a week or two and they still want to be here for the next 30 days, that would be amazing for everybody.”

If Spring Training ends up not happening, Local First Arizona Vice President of Business Development Thomas Barr sees pretty much the entire Valley being negatively impacted.

“You look at Downtown Tempe, which does rides to two stadiums from there,” Barr said. “You’ve got Old Town Scottsdale with a lot of walkability. Mesa, West Phoenix, there’s so many of them. And so a lot of the small businesses in those areas count on that traffic.”

Without it, McDonald says he might have to consider reducing staffing. But for businesses that aren’t sure what to do while they play the waiting game, Barr says there are opportunities to receive financial aid on a county and city levels.

“There are grant programs that are active and alive right now that they can get access to,” he said. “Through Maricopa County, through the city of Phoenix and other municipalities running assistance programs.”

For now, McDonald and the Social Tap Eatery are prepared to wait things out with the hope that Major League Baseball says ‘Play Ball!’ in the upcoming days. “The employees are all excited about it,” McDonald said. “We definitely staffed up the best we could. I know a lot of people put their plans on hold so they can stay here.”

If you’re interested in learning more about grants available to local businesses, you can visit Local First Arizona’s website.