Spring training games really really don’t produce any economic benefit, okay?

Vocativ has a good article running down the basics of spring training economic impact, which could probably best summed up as “there isn’t hardly any.” Key paragraphs:

“There’s just no evidence that it does anything,” Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida, said, noting that such studies overlook the costs—opportunity and real—of such investments.

After the 1994 baseball strike curtailed the ’95 spring training season and diluted its quality for most of the duration with replacement players, University of Akron professor John Zipp assumed he’d see a negative economic impact because spring training attendance declined 60 percent—he didn’t.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” Zipp said. “It’s just not worth public dollars.”

Lots of other good stuff there, including the tale of two neighboring cities battling for the right to put $50 million in public money in the pocket of the Boston Red Sox. (I wish it went a bit into possible explanations why the economic impact of people attending spring training games is near zero — leading theory is that it doesn’t much increase the number of spring tourists to Florida, just changes where they spend their money — but you can’t have everything.) Go read it, then bookmark it for the next time a baseball team insists that it needs a new spring training facility and that it will more than pay for itself in new tax receipts, because that shit is messed up.

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6 comments on “Spring training games really really don’t produce any economic benefit, okay?

  1. Probably not a good time to show this article to the people in West Palm Beach. I guess Kissimmee and Cocoa can feel good about the Astros and Nats leaving. after 2017.

    I feel sorry for the people in West Palm Beach who now have to deal with the Astros ownership. I’ll predict they’ll be a lot of head shaking going on as they hand over $110 million (divided by two teams) and still get more demands.



  2. I kinda wonder what % of the spring training revelers are actually from outside of Florida in the first place. Yankees fans living in Tampa are hardly going to book hotel rooms in, say, Sarasota or Dunedin just to see their team play there.

  3. Wouldn’t it be cool if all municipalities in Florida signed a ‘non-welfare-to-the-rich’ pact whereby not a single new dollar would go to spring training facilities. Then, we could see how fast, or slow, the 15 remaining teams of the Grapefruit League evacuate Florida. We already know, that whether they stay or go, it has no measurable impact on the economy. But we do know, that up until now, it has had a cancerous effect on us Florida taxpayers.

  4. I used to live in Mesa, AZ which wrecked a nice municipal golf course and park to give a (free) spring training palace to the Cubs. The Cubs, although not paying anything, refused to allow it to be built on any of the empty lots in the middle of Mesa. So it was built where it would mostly benefit the hotels and restaurants of Tempe and Scottsdale. I’m not sure which made me angrier, the evil Cubs or the stupid politicians in their pockets.

  5. So are we assuming that the same people would come to Florida this time of year or are we assuming they would be replaced by different tourists who would be going if not for the spring training crowd?

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