Metro Phoenix restaurants hope to benefit from Cactus League traffic

Baseball fans weren’t the only ones anxiously awaiting Major League Baseball and its players to settle a 99-day labor lockout and suspend spring training.

Valley restaurant owners were equally interested in a settlement while there is still time to benefit from increased business from the 15 teams visiting the Phoenix area to play in the Cactus League.

“It’s extremely important to the community as well as the restaurant,” said Daniel Ligurotis, general manager of Butters Pancakes & Cafe located in Scottsdale, not far from Salt River Fields where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Americans train. Colorado Rockies.

“We are very lucky to have a very loyal local clientele here, but I have associates and friends who are in hospitality all over Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix area, and their lives matter in training. spring. said Ligurotis.

The Cactus League operates from 10 stadiums in the Phoenix metro area, stretching from Goodyear to Mesa, with multiple teams sharing a stadium complex.

In 2018, the last full spring training season before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Valley saw a $644.2 million economic impact from the Cactus League, according to a study by the L. William Seidman of WP Carey of Arizona State University. Business school.

That’s why many restaurant owners were relieved on March 10, when owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement and announced an abbreviated spring training schedule.

Descending number: Cactus League attendance down, concern on the rise

Originally scheduled to start on February 26, Cactus League has been brought forward and runs from March 17 to April 5. It falls during Arizona’s peak weather season, when baseball fans are ready to soak up the sun – and their favorite restaurants and watering holes.

“We are such a big open space. We have plenty of seating on the patio, and I think we’d really like to call it that,” said Nico Doniele Scegiel, co-owner of Santé, a popular North Scottsdale organic restaurant. “So it was a big sigh of relief to hear that they’ve come to some sort of conclusion.”

Because this year’s spring training season is the first for Santé, which opened in December, Doniele Scegiel is excited about the new customers her restaurant could potentially gain.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of influx of business over the next week, especially since it’s just getting started,” she said. “I think since it’s so short, people are going to walk out immediately.”

Spring Training Guide: What to expect at the 10 Cactus League stadiums

At Butters Pancakes & Cafe, traffic picked up immediately after spring training officially arrived.

“There are already people coming from out of state, from out of town, you can see them,” Ligurotis said. “Everyone is starting to show up. Everyone represents their team. It was immediate. It was like turning on a switch. »

Ligurotis, who has been in the restaurant industry for more than a decade, always sees familiar faces at Butters Pancakes & Cafe once spring training rolls around.

“I’ve seen the same families for years, and I’m talking about years and years and years,” Ligurotis said. “You only see them for a short period of time, so it’s really cool to see the kids grow up.”

Fans and their families aren’t the only ones sampling the delights of Valley restaurants during Cactus League. Many major and minor league players attending the camp are also exploring the many dining options the Phoenix area has to offer.

“For years I befriended all the minor league guys,” Ligurotis said. “I’ve made a lot of friends with the big league guys, so it’s really nice to see these guys…

“They come in, they eat and we hear about it, and it’s a good time.”

Where to eat: Great restaurants near every ballpark in the valley

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