Arizona Mayors Are Trying to Use COVID to Screw up 'Spring Training' for Small Business Owners... Again

AP Photo/LM Otero

If there’s one thing you can depend on across America, it’s politicians stepping on their own feet when it comes to the economic stability of local, small business communities. It’s no different in a progressively-purpling state like Arizona, unfortunately. The latest target: the month-long, early spring, economic boon in the Phoenix area known as the Cactus League — which is the Major League Baseball Spring Training season’s counterpart of Florida’s Grapefruit League.

According to the Associated Press:

The Cactus League made the request in a letter to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. The letter was co-signed by the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Glendale, Goodyear and Peoria, as well as representatives from Phoenix and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

A delay…but for how long? A month.

NY Daily News:

On Monday, the Cactus League and Arizona community leaders asked MLB to delay the start of spring training by about a month. The Cactus League has obtained data from the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation that projects a decline in infections by March. Six county mayors, as well as representatives from Phoenix, have suggested March or later would be a better time to invite thousands of baseball staff and personnel to its state.

That’s right. They’re scared of the Wuhan coronavirus. In outdoor stadiums. With enforced social distancing. You truly cannot make this stuff up, readers!

Meanwhile, the people running or working at the businesses most likely to be hurt by a late Spring Training, the people whose paychecks or ability to pay to keep their doors open depend on the season to hold them over, like a squirrel storing away nuts over the winter, are shaking their heads at this. Trust me. I talked to them this evening. They couldn’t believe anyone would sign on to such a letter.

Almost every company in the area depends on the seasonal visitors’ hotel stays, restaurant visits, and Cubs swag sales. Or name the team. Fifteen different teams train in the Phoenix valley.

Here’s the silver lining, though: if we were talking about the goverment making the decision, maybe the jibber jabber of the know-nothing politicians would sway things. But we’re talking about baseball, which is a business where, you know, they’re interested ino making (and not losing) money. It’s looking like, at least how the Daily News writes it, this letter deal is just one more negotiation tactic by the baseball owners by proxy. MLB would have to renegotiate their contract with the players union — they can just, unilaterally, move the season into late November.

We also have major league sports happening as we speak. NBA? Check. NHL? Check. And the NHL even has some fans in attendance, indoors.

There’s also this to consider. There don’t appear to be any issues like this with politicians in Florida, according to the Daily News piece. Imagine that.