Arizona Ups Its Ballgame

Cactus League & NCAA come to the Valley

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ The crack of the bat, the smell of fresh-mowed grass, the warmth of the Arizona sun – it’s Cactus League spring training time once again in the Valley.

With a combination of beautiful weather and visiting Major League Baseball teams, spring in the Valley has been a favorite time of the year for local and visiting baseball fans alike for decades. And the Cactus League industry continues to grow and contributes nearly $600 million annually in economic impact in the state.

A baseball and wooden bat on a white background

Currently, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers all call Arizona their spring training home. With 10 facilities hosting the teams, the Phoenix metropolitan area holds claim to the greatest concentration of professional baseball facilities found anywhere in the United States, and offers baseball fans the experience of watching and meeting favorite playebasketball-playerrs in a more intimate ballpark setting. Cactus League teams play in the Valley through April 1. For a complete rundown of games, visit www.cactusleague.com.

Surprisingly, despite continuing record attendance each year, baseball doesn’t float everyone’s boat, which is why Arizona fans of college hoops have reason to celebrate this year as the Valley gears up to host the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Final Four festivities will run March 31 – April 3, with a number of ancillary events offered free or low cost to the public.

During the Final Four Fan Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center March 31 – April 3, fans can enjoy interactive basketball activities, youth clinics, special performances, photo ops, prizes, autograph sessions and more. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Final Four weekend, the NCAA will host the March Madness Music Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix. Reese’s Final Four Friday will be held March 31 at University of Phoenix Stadium. During the event, fans can watch all the Final Four teams practice and hear from each head coach. The Final Four Dribble will take place in Downtown Phoenix at 11am April 2. Thousands of children will be given their own Final Four T-shirt and official NCAA basketball to dribble along a route ending at the entrance of Fan Fest.

“We have been working for years as a community to prepare for this historic event – the first Final Four in Arizona and the first in the West since 1995,” says Dawn Rogers, executive director/CEO of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee. “We promise that it will be an unforgettable experience for the visiting student-athletes, alumni, fans, media and NCAA corporate champions and partners, as well as Arizona residents.”

For complete details, visit www.ncaa.com/final-four. |CST

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