Cubs win! Cubs win! So will Cactus League come spring
PHOENIX — No matter who won the climactic Game 7 of the World Series between the long-suffering Cleveland Indians and longer-suffering Chicago Cubs, Arizona wins.
Both teams’ spring training headquarters are in the Valley — the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa and the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark, which they share with the Cincinnati Reds.
"It being both Cactus League teams is great for the Cactus League," Debbie Diveney, the marketing and business operations coordinator at Goodyear Ballpark, said before the Cubs claimed their first title in 108 years with an 8-6 victory in 10 innings.
After the Kansas City Royals won it all in 2015, attendance at spring games in Surprise jumped from 7,519 per game to 8,407 in 2016.
"It was actually our highest spring training attendance," said Tara Combs, sports, tourism and special events division manager for the city of Surprise. "We had a huge out-of-state crowd and you could see that with our ticket sales, because a lot of our ticket sales were done online. Which shows people were purchasing out-of-state. We actually get reports through our ticketing system that they are coming from out of Arizona.
"It has put Surprise on the map."
Goodyear Ballpark stood to benefit the most if Cleveland had won for the first time since 1948. Attendance this spring averaged 5,367 — just 54 percent of capacity.
Diveney has already felt the impact of the Indians magical run in the post season.
"We’ve already seen a 30 percent increase in our season tickets for spring training," she said. "The more people that come here the more economic impact to Goodyear. We already see over $50 million impact from spring training alone during the season."
Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord has experienced Indians fans firsthand in Ohio. She went to the Tribe Fest last January in Cleveland.
"I’ve seen a difference in each year I have gone to Ohio and the people accepting Arizona and the Cactus League," she said. "There are many people who say they are coming out."
In contrast, the Cubs drew an average of 14,549 — the most in Arizona and Florida — which represented 97 percent of ballpark capacity last spring.
"We sell out every game, always have," Mesa Mayor John Giles said. "How do you improve on that? It’ll be exciting to see."
Even the mayor is caught up in Cubs mania. He spoke to an out-of-town convention group Wednesday.
"All they could talk about was the Cubs," said Giles, who has a picture of himself and Cubs manager Joe Maddon and a Maddon bobblehead in his office. "It’s a national story and fun to see how it plays out in Mesa. This is a real Cubs town."
Jeanna Berg contributed to this story.