By Evan Weiner |
It is highly doubtful that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Tony Clark are exchanging Valentine’s Day flowers.
MLB and the players association are not close to hammering out a deal that would allow spring training to open as scheduled in a few days. MLB has suggested a federal mediator to help in the talks but the players are not interested. So, who could place pressure on both sides to get a deal done? Politicians who spend billions in public money to build stadiums and spring training complexes for Major League Baseball owners like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. But neither seems to be willing to speak out on the lockout which seemingly will cost their states money.
The Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s sports promotion and development agency, claimed that in 2019, the last full Florida Grapefruit League season, nearly 1.5 million consumers went to state spring training sites. The Florida foundation said spring training brings an annual economic impact of $687.1 million. If, indeed, spring training does bring $687.1 million annually, why aren’t Florida politicians who negotiated deals with MLB owners screaming about the owner-imposed lockout hurting local businesses as no games are being played.
In Arizona, Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher said a 2018 economic impact study found spring training brought in $644.2 million to the state. The Cactus League season only generated $363.6 million in 2020 when it was cut short due to the onset of COVID-19. Major League Baseball spring training is allegedly pouring $1.3 billion into local economies and politicians are sitting on their hands not applying any heat on the owners and players. But that is how it is for every sports labor action. Politicians suddenly become mute.