Tempe merchants count on baseball fans for an annual boost in March profits at the start of MLB’s spring training season, owners said.
Tempe Diablo Stadium manager Jerry Hall said spring training plays an important role in supporting Tempe’s local businesses.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, one of the Cactus League’s 15 teams whose off-season home is in Arizona, play their spring training home games at Tempe Diablo Stadium on West Alameda Drive.
“With the economy being the way it is, it is more important than ever for local merchants to take full advantage of these opportunities,” Hall said.
Tempe Diablo Stadium attracted about 6,000 fans per home game last season.
Hall said he is pushing for a much higher average this year.
“More people in attendance means more money in concession sales as well,” Hall said. “Those people will be eating before and after the game at local Tempe restaurants.”
Cactus League President Brad Curtis said even more people will be attracted to Tempe this year because of the Angels’ signing of first baseman Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $250 million contract in December.
Pujols, a three-time National League MVP and a nine-time All-Star, has a .328 career batting average and 445 career home runs.
“The Angels have seen an overall increase of 20 percent in ticket sales for spring training,” Curtis said.
Shops along Mill Avenue add staff to accommodate spring training fans. Fans will also have the opportunity to be brought to the stadium by the free Angels Baseball Training Trolley System starting April 1. The trolley stops at 5th Street and Mill Avenue and at Tempe Marketplace.
Katie Bondurant, marketing manager at Blondies Sports Bar and Grill on Mill Avenue, said the spring training rush is an opportunity for those in need of work.
“We hire a lot of extra girls to the staff as servers,” Bondurant said. “At times we even send them to the Angels games dressed as cheerleaders to hand out fliers.”
Paul Varley, Crave Cafe and Lounge manager, said the increased number of patrons who arrive during this time require a larger staff.
“We have to add staff for the start of the busy season,” Varley said. “About six employees, ranging from security staff to bartenders, will be brought on board.”
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