Baseball Lockout Leaves Florida Training Hubs Scrambling
The ongoing labor dispute between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association is beginning to hit close to home. Florida serves as one of two major hubs (the other being Arizona) for MLB’s Spring Training season, which brings not only the ballplayers themselves, but legions of diehard fans. However, due to an expired collective bargaining agreement between team ownership and the Players Association, the players are on owner-imposed “lockout” until a new deal is brokered. In the meantime, the Spring Training season has been suspended, with no resolution in sight.
This has substantial implications for local economies in Florida that provide Spring Training accommodations for teams and their traveling entourage. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused some disruption in a booming Spring Training tourism market, prior tourism returns were prolific—2019 saw an estimated 1.5 million fans convene across the 15 spring training homes in Florida. On an annual basis this equates to a collective $687 million dollar impact for these local economies.