Baseball Festival is Bound to be a Hit with Fans

February 28, 2012
Scottsdale Republic Blog

The Spring Training Festival this weekend raises a question: Wow, why didn’t anyone think of this before?

The free festival at Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall today and Sunday is the first in which Cactus League teams have come together to celebrate and launch a season.

Hall of Famers will be on hand to sign autographs. A collection of memorabilia will be on display at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The Arizona SciTech Festival will let people experience a 100 mph fastball zipping by. Bands will play. Food will be sold.

And teams from across the Cactus League will be on hand to sell tickets and promote themselves. They’ve never before tried a unified approach.

“If people can see this as a league instead of 15 teams scattered around the Valley, we can push attendance. There are about a million seats that go empty each year,” said Robert Johnson, project leader for the Play Ball Experience.

His group exhibits Cactus League memorabilia at five locations across the Valley.

There is a good business reason for the festival, for the teams and for tourism. But more than anything, this is for the fans. Spring training always has provided fans with their closest, most relaxed access to players. It gives those from cold-weather states a reason to get away for a week or so. It deserves a celebration that makes the fan the center of attention. What took so long?

Editor’s Note: An estimated 15,000 baseball fans turned out for the weekend festival in downtown Scottsdale.