2017 Cactus League Season

More from this show

The Cactus League season gets underway at the end of February with 15 Major League Baseball teams playing at 10 facilities in the Phoenix area. Jeff Meyer, president of the Arizona Cactus League Association, will tell us more about the Cactus League, its financial impact and about the chance to see major league players up close.

TED SIMONS: THE ROAR OF THE CROWD THAT'S WHAT YOU WILL HEAR IN VALLEY CACTUS LEAGUE STADIUMS AS 15 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS BEGIN SPRING TRAINING PLAY. HERE NOW IS JEFF MEYER, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ARIZONA CACTUS LEAGUE ASSOCATION. 15 TEAMS, 10 FACILITIES. WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE CACTUS LEAGUE?

JEFF MEYER: WE ARE GEARING UP FOR ANOTHER YEAR WITH THE CUBS WINNING THE WORLD SERIES IS A GREAT WAY TO START OFF THE SEASON, WE ARE HOSTING THE CLASSIC THIS YEAR.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE CACTUS LEAGUE IN GENERAL, HEALTHY, HEALTHIER? WHERE ARE WE STANDING?

JEFF MEYER: I SAY HEALTHY. WE ARE COMING OFF TWO YEARS IN A ROW NOW WE'VE BEEN AT THE MILLION NINE ATTENDANCE MARK FOR THE LAST TWO SEASONS. WE ARE EXCITED AS LONG AS THE WEATHER COOPERATES THAT WE HAVE A CHANCE TO BREAK THE RECORD.

TED SIMONS: HOW ABOUT THE TEAMS? IS EVERYONE HAPPY? HEARING THREATS TO LEAVE IN ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

JEFF MEYER: NOT AT ALL FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE. WE HAVE 15 TEAMS IN THIS MARKET. FLORIDA HAS 15 AS WELL. I THINK MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LIKES IT THAT WAY.

TED SIMONS: ANY GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE TEAMS LOOKING LONGINGLY IN THIS DIRECTION.

JEFF MEYER: A LOT OF THEM JUST RECENTLY RENEWED THEIR CONTRACTS. THERE IS NO ONE IN THE MIX LOOKING AT MOVING.

TED SIMONS: HOW ABOUT BALLPARKS, LOCAL TEAMS HAPPY? THERE HAS BEEN MOVING AROUND AND SHUFFLING. HOW DOES THAT STAND?

JEFF MEYER: A COUPLE NEW BALLPARKS HAVE BEEN ADDED WITH THE CUBS, DRAWING GOOD ATTENDANCE RECORDS FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE AND SALT WATER FIELDS AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE PARK YOU THINK NEEDS ATTENTION THE SOONEST? WHAT'S THE ONE OUT THERE THAT LOOKS LIKE IT'S DUE FOR GUSSING UP?

JEFF MEYER: SURPRISE, THERE ARE DISCUSSIONS WITH A NEW CONTRACT WITH THE TEAM'S POTENTIAL. THAT'S PROBABLY UP AND COMING.

TED SIMONS: WATCH OUT FOR THAT ONE. FINANCIAL IMPACT FOR THE CACTUS LEAGUE. WHERE IS THAT IMPACT FELT? WHAT KIND OF MONEY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

JEFF MEYER: ANNUALLY $456 MILLION A YEAR. WE STUDIED THAT IN 2015. WE USE THAT NUMBER AND WE'LL BE CONDUCTING THAT STUDY AGAIN NEXT SEASON.

TED SIMONS: REGIONALLY OR LOCALLY?

JEFF MEYER: HALF OF THE ATTENDEES ARE FROM OUT OF STATE. IT'S NICE TO HAVE THE TRAVELERS IN. WE FEEL FORTUNATE TO HAVE OTHER THINGS WITHIN THE STATE OF ARIZONA TO OFFER IN ADDITION TO SPRING TRAINING.

TED SIMONS: IS THERE A TYPICAL CACTUS LEAGUE FAN? IF YOU PUT ONE TOGETHER, WHAT WOULD HE OR SHE LOOK LIKE?

JEFF MEYER: BASEBALL ENTHUSIAST, ENJOYS THE WEATHER, FAMILY TIME, GOING TO THE BALLPARK.

TED SIMONS: FROM ONE PART OF THE COUNTRY MORE THAN OTHERS?

JEFF MEYER: FROM THE MIDWEST, A LOT OF FOLLOWERS. I THINK WITH THE EXCITEMENT FROM THE CUBS WILL SEE MORE FROM THAT PART OF THE STATES COMING.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS LOCAL FANS AND OUT OF TOWNERS, IS THERE A PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE?

JEFF MEYER: IT'S A 50/50 SPLIT. HALF OF THE ATTENDEES WILL BE FROM OUT OF TOWN.

TED SIMONS: IF THERE IS A PART OF THE COUNTRY YOU ARE LOOKING TO HAVE BETTER REPRESENTATION. WHERE COULD THE MARKETING BE STRONGER, DO YOU THINK?

JEFF MEYER: CALIFORNIA, WHICH OBVIOUSLY IS A TOURIST STATE AS WELL, TO GET MORE FROM CALIFORNIA. THE GIANTS DON'T TRAVEL WELL. I'M ASSOCIATED WITH THE ORGANIZATION THAT HOSTS THE GIANTS. OVER ALL, WE ARE EXCITED THAT THEY ARE STARTING TO PLAY BALL ON FRIDAY.

TED SIMONS: HISTORY OF THE CACTUS LEAGUE, I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS LONG ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN THERE WAS A LOT OF CONCERN REGARDING THE CACTUS LEAGUE. GIVE US BACKGROUND TO WHERE IT'S BEEN COMPARED TO WHERE IT IS NOW.

JEFF MEYER: I HAVE TO BENEFIT FROM GOVERNOR ROSE MOFFORD WAS VERY INSTRUMENTAL IN FORMING A COMMISSION BACK IN THE MID '90S. WE WERE GOING TO POTENTIALLY LOSE TEAMS TO FLORIDA. A LOT OF PEOPLE STOOD UP AND EMBRACED THE SITUATION AND CAME UP WITH FUNDING SOURCES FOR THE STADIUM TO BE BUILT.

TED SIMONS: CUBS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DRAW HERE REGARDLESS OF THE STADIUM. WINNING THE WORLD SERIES, WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING? IT'S GOING TO BE A MAD HOUSE.

JEFF MEYER: 19 OF THE 20 TOP GAME IN THE HISTORY OF THE CACTUS LEAGUE. I'M NOT SURE THEY CAN DRIVE THE NUMBERS MORE THERE, BUT ON THE ROAD, PROBABLY A RISE IN ATTENDANCE FOR SURE.

TED SIMONS: HAS THAT COMPLEX BEEN BUILT OUT OR IS THERE MORE COMING?

JEFF MEYER: THERE IS MORE IN THE MASTER PLAN. THERE ARE OTHER AMENITIES AROUND THE STADIUM, NOT NECESSARILY THE PARK ITSELF.

TED SIMONS: OKAY SO LIKE?

JEFF MEYER: RETAIL.

TED SIMONS: BUSINESS CONCERN AND THESE SORT OF THINGS.

JEFF MEYER: CORRECT.

WITH THAT IN MIND -- AGAIN, I HAVE BEEN HERE LONG ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN I COULD GO TO THE SPRING TRAINING GAME AND HAVE THE SECTION TO MYSELF, WALK IN, THEY DON'T CHARGE YOU, PARKING IS A BREEZE. THAT'S A LONG TIME AGO. HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CASUAL NATURE OF SPRING TRAINING WHEN THE CUBS -- IT'S BIG BUSINESS NOW. CAN YOU KEEP IT CAREFREE?

JEFF MEYER: TICKET PRICES HAVE GONE UP. THE TEAMS ARE DRIVING THAT BUT WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE IT A SETTING WHERE ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON TAKE YOUR FAMILY TO THE BALLPARK, ENJOY THE OUTFIELD AND HAVE A HOTDOG AND A COKE.

TED SIMONS: DO ALL BALLPARKS CONTROL SPRING TRAINING ACTIVITIES? OR DO MUNICIPALITIES CONTROL ANY OF THAT?

JEFF MEYER: EVERY CONTRACT IS SET UP A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE. FOR THE MOST PART, THE TEAMS.

TED SIMONS: GIVE US A SCHEDULE. WHEN DO GAMES START? WHEN DO GAMES END?

JEFF MEYER: WE HAVE THE CACTUS LEAGUE LUNCHEON THIS WEDNESDAY. WE HAVE TABLES TO SELL SO WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE PEOPLE TO ENJOY THAT. CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE AT WWW DOT CACTUS LEAGUE DOT COM AND STARTING FRIDAY, FIRST GAME IS SCOTTSDALE WITH THE GIANTS HOSTING THE REDS, FULL SCHEDULE STARTS SATURDAY AND RUNS THROUGH APRIL 1ST.

TED SIMONS: OCCASIONALLY THE TEAMS WILL BE HERE DAY AFTER THE SEASON STARTS. YOU GET THAT SOMETIMES, DON'T YOU?

JEFF MEYER: EXACTLY.

TED SIMONS: ARE YOU EXCITED?

JEFF MEYER: I AM. EXCITED TO HIT THE DIAMOND FOR SURE.

TED SIMONS: IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. BEST OF LUCK THIS SEASON.

JEFF MEYER: THANK YOU, TED.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU.

Jeff Meyer: President of the Arizona Cactus League Association

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
airs May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: