Arizona tourism officials worry that a possible delay in spring training games could cost our state millions of dollars.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The first Cactus League games are scheduled for February 27, but there's no word yet about whether fans will be allowed in the stands, or whether the games might be delayed.

Pam Gilbert is director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. She said a lot of out of town baseball fans are holding off booking their spring training vacations because of the uncertainty surrounding the health pandemic and whether the games will go on.

"We're getting calls now from our luxury travel agents and from our repeat guests asking questions," said Gilbert. "We have people that have gone ahead and booked, hoping that the schedule will be moving forward as planned and there will be fans allowed to attend."

Last year, Arizona's tourism industry took a $300 million hit when COVID-19 shut the Cactus League down in early March, putting even more importance on the 2021 season, with so many hotels, resorts and restaurants still struggling.

Expect a slightly different Cactus League experience in 2021

Kim Sabow is president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. "It is so crucially important to the state's economy, our local hotels and indirect jobs, we've been eviscerated in this industry absolutely eviscerated," said Sabow. "If we can at least delay the start, and vaccinations are rolling out more and more, I think consumer confidence will be re-established and hopefully we can welcome some visitors and Cactus League in its entirety."

"Getting travelers back and be able to have these special events at peak season is really so important to us," said Gilbert.

On Monday, the Cactus League asked MLB to postpone the first spring training games, but so far no schedule changes have been made and there have been no announcements about fans in the stands. 

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 

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