Cactus League games start next week, 1.8M expected to attend monthlong season

Spring training has begun!
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 10:53 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The WM Phoenix Open and Super Bowl might be over, but the Valley’s busy sports season continues!

Spring Training now moves into the spotlight with pitchers and catchers reporting to their respective team complexes today. The rest of the players start early next week with games beginning next weekend. “You can feel the energy and the excitement. People want to enjoy baseball with no restrictions, no limitations,” Bridget Binsbacher with the Cactus League said.

This is expected to be the first “normal” Spring Training season in four years. During 2020, COVID-19 forced the Cactus League to cancel the season halfway through. In 2021, fans returned but at a very limited capacity with attendance capped at 25% or less. The Cactus League was dealt another curve ball last year with the MLB lockout. Many fans canceled their baseball plans in 2022 because of the uncertainty of the lockout.

These numbers from the Cactus League help to show the attendance drop-off during recent years.

Total Attendance (Games)

  • 2022 728,626 (135)
  • 2021 446,905 (208)
  • 2020 949,113 (143)
  • 2019 1,737,975 (220)
  • 2018 1,796,403 (233)

While the pandemic was certainly challenging to navigate, Binsbacher says the 2022 season was even harder. “We lost about two weeks of the season and what the challenge was, the schedule moved and shifted to later. Months and months of preparing whether it’s logistically or in the way of promotion and marketing for the season, that was almost impossible to do, it was, because we didn’t know when the opening game was going to be,” Binsbacher said.

The Cactus League’s Executive Director expects big crowds and attendance numbers this year at the 10 ballparks across the Valley. “On a normal season, on average, we have about 1.8 million come out. Six out of 10 are from somewhere else in the country, somewhere else in the world. And so we’re expecting those numbers and then some because people are so excited about getting back to spring training,” Binsbacher said.

The D-back’s first Spring Training games are a little more than a week away. They’re playing two games on Saturday, February 25th versus the Oakland A’s and the Colorado Rockies.