MLB spring training delay costs hotels up to $51 million in revenue

When Major League Baseball owners and the MLB Players Association couldn’t reach a collective bargaining agreement before the originally scheduled start of spring training, the impact was broader than baseball.

Communities in Florida and Arizona, home to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, respectively, were left without the familiar sign of early spring, and hotel markets in those two states were left with two fewer weeks of overnight stays. for sale to visiting fans, a valuable request. The source.

By imposing higher rates, hotels in Florida and Arizona have consistently earned higher revenue than during spring training in 2019, but more typical booking volume at these rates could have meant an additional $30 million. room revenue in Arizona and an additional $21 million in Florida, according to analysis by STR, CoStar’s hotel analytics firm.

MLB spring training typically lasts five to six weeks from mid-February to the end of March, bringing not only the teams themselves, but also baseball fans looking to get a quick glimpse of their team’s chances. for the season and to have the opportunity to interact. with players in a more informal environment. In 2019, more than 1.4 million people attended Florida Grapefruit League spring training games, while Arizona Cactus League games drew more than 1.7 million.

This influx of players, coaches, support staff, sports journalists and fans is a boon for area hotels. For the six markets that have at least one MLB team facility, Spring Training consistently represents the best market performer of the year. In 2019, the highest weekly occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room for each market were achieved during spring training – excluding ADR for Palm Beach hotels, in Florida, which peaked the week ending Dec. 28. In 2019, over 20% of annual hotel room revenue for Phoenix was collected during the spring training period.

However, baseball is not the only driver of demand in these markets, especially since spring training coincides with spring school break. According to STR’s School Break Report, 75% of students were on spring break at some point during the spring training period in 2019. With beaches attracting Florida spring break and outdoor recreation attracting visitors to Arizona, this strong performance cannot be solely attributed to the impact of spring training. However, in 2022, the markets experienced what a spring without baseball looks like.

This year, spring training was originally scheduled to run from around February 15 — when pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report — until March 28, the last day of spring training games. Ongoing collective bargaining negotiations both delayed and ultimately condensed the spring training period in order to have a full season of regular season baseball. The start date has been pushed back to March 11, with games ending on April 5, reducing the length of spring training.

The impact of the delay was greater for hotels in Arizona than for hotels in Florida. The Cactus League is much denser geographically than the Grapefruit League, intensifying the impact in a single market. All of Arizona’s stadiums and training facilities are in the Phoenix metro area, while in Florida, teams are split between the markets of Tampa, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Florida Central.

After some omicron-related volatility at the start of the year, the Phoenix submarkets that host Spring Training had approached or exceeded 2019 occupancy levels during the week ending February 12, before the scheduled start of Spring Training. However, in the weeks between the planned start and the actual start, these occupancy indices dropped by as much as 16%.

Once spring training began, hotel occupancy began to rebound, with most submarkets topping 2019 occupancy in the last full week of games on April 2. This week in 2019 was after spring training ended. If the 2022 data had instead been indexed to the last full week of games in 2019, hotels in these submarkets would have instead represented between 85% and 92% of 2019 occupancy levels.

Strong ADR performance offset lower occupancy to push RevPAR above 2019 levels most weeks; however this depressed occupation still strongly impacted the market. If occupancies in the four key submarkets had maintained the February 12 weekly index for the originally planned spring training, this would have represented more than 125,000 additional room nights of demand. At current ADR levels for these submarkets, this could have meant an additional $30 million in room revenue. For all markets, hotel revenues are only the beginning in terms of the total economic impact of this shortened and delayed spring training.

Florida hotel markets have not seen such a steep drop in occupancy. Markets on the West Coast of Florida suffered the most from the loss of Spring Training, with the largest occupancy declines in the Fort Myers/Bonita Springs, Sarasota/Beaches, Tarpon Springs/North Shore submarkets, as well as than Fort Pierce/Port St. Lucie on the east side. Although hotels in these submarkets did not achieve the same low occupancy index as Phoenix submarkets, they consistently outperformed Phoenix hotels at the start of the year, compared to to 2019.

As in Phoenix, strong ADR kept RevPAR well above 2019 levels, but falling demand still represented a missed opportunity for Florida hotels. If the declining submarkets had instead maintained their February 12 occupancy indices, this would have equaled 91,000 additional room nights of demand in the 14 submarkets that host Spring Training. At current ADR levels, this would have represented an additional $21 million in hotel room revenue.

After the impacts of 2020 and 2021’s COVID-19, and delayed and shortened spring training this year, Florida and Arizona markets – and baseball fans – will be eager to get back to spring training. , hopefully normal in 2023.

Hannah Smith is a senior consultant at STR, CoStar’s hotel analytics company.

This article represents an interpretation of data collected by STR, parent company of HNN. Feel free to contact an editor with any questions or concerns. For more analysis of STR data, visit the data analysis blog at

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