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."
The tourism industry was the first to feel the effects of the pandemic right at the busiest time of the year.
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.
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.
"The Cactus League has formed a task force to ensure that our 10 spring training facilities are prepared to host the 2021 spring training season in a manner that is safe for all involved. We stand ready to work with you on the final preparation and outcome to begin the season."
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.