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Spring Training Means Economic Home Run

Dunedin's Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is home to the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex. Dunedin is one of a dozen Florida communities that benefit from spring baseball.

Like a bear waking from hibernation, Major League Baseball teams are emerging from their cave-like dugouts to start a new season.

Spring training is here.

It is easy for baseball fans to get excited for the beginning of the season, but many business owners do as well.

A 2017 study by the Florida Sports Foundation found that Grapefruit League baseball accounts for $1 billion economic impact and an estimated 10,000 jobs in the state.

Airbnb property owners are among those who see this as an opportunity to profit.

“We’re talking about some meaningful income that’s going into the pockets of the local vacation rental hosts who are on the Airbnb platform,” Ben Breit, the press secretary for the company’s Florida operations said. “But there’s also a trickle-down effect.”

In Tampa, the spring home of the New York Yankees, about 800 Airbnb hosts earned a combined $1.53 million in supplemental income from February 23 to March 31, 2017. The top state guests were from: New York.

In Lakeland, there was a 575 percent spike in guests from Michigan during the same time span. The Detroit Tigers practice at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.

“When more people are able to stay in Lakeland when otherwise they may not have been able to because the hotels are sold out, it’s more people spending money in Lakeland restaurants,” Breit said. “That’s more people taking Lakeland Ubers and cabs and seeing the shops and just generally experiencing the city.”

The same trend is shown in several other cities throughout the state. Toronto Blue Jays fans flock to Dunedin to watch their team play, Mets fans to Port St. Lucie, and Orioles fans to Sarasota.

In Arizona’s Cactus League, cities experience a similar economic impact in the spring.

“My understanding of the situation in Arizona is basically it’s fewer cities that host teams,” Breit said. “With Florida there’s more teams, more cities, but you can see a similar economic impact.”

Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
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