SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Businesses in Arizona are worried they'll strike out if Major League Baseball teams can't play ball when spring training rolls around in just over two months.
Major league players were locked out when the clock struck midnight Thursday. It's the first work stoppage in the MLB in more than 25 years. Team owners hope the move helps kickstart negotiations with players while the players association calls it a "drastic and unnecessary measure."
As the league and players association are at a standstill, businesses in Arizona are hoping an agreement is reached before the end of February.
“Something like this nobody wants. They need to compromise," said Kerry Sharif, the owner of Grey Wolf in Old Town Scottsdale.
Sharif has owned Grey Wolf for 25 years.
“We carry in this store we’re strictly Indian made. I don’t carry any imported merchandise. We have a lot of unique pieces and older pieces that you can’t even find anymore," Sharif said.
His Native American handmade goods are a southwest staple and a favorite stop for tourists in town. Many of those tourists are there to visit the spring training facility just a few blocks away.
“Spring training is very important. It brings lots of people in here," Sharif said. “It does make us nervous because we just recovered from COVID last year.”
Sharif and his neighbors' fear that the MLB lockout will last comes on the heels of a shortened season in 2020 and a limited spring training earlier this year due to the pandemic. It led to a massive economic hit across the state.
“This does have a direct impact on our local businesses and our lodging and our tourism," said Bridget Binsbacher, the executive director of the Cactus League
Binsbacher said a typical spring training season in the Valley, like the 2018 season, has an economic impact of more than $600 million.
“The result in 2020 was a $363 million impact so you can see how significant that is. It’s nearly $300 million loss," Binsbacher said.
Now, the clock is ticking.
"Nobody can get their way all the time," Sharif said.
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