The Cactus League opened its 70th year of spring training baseball last weekend amid hope and concern — with an eye on Las Vegas.
In the short term, the top official from the Cactus League, which hosts half the Major League Baseball teams each February and March, is worried that funding mechanisms will run out for upgrading stadiums by 2031, the legality of those funds being disputed in Maricopa county court and the Milwaukee Brewers reportedly flirting with the Dunedin, Fla.
However, Cactus League president Mark Coronado told the Arizona Republic in a story published Sunday that he also is worried about Las Vegas poaching a number of Major League teams for spring training.
“We need to be cognizant of Las Vegas,” he said. “Nobody is going to tell you Las Vegas is actively looking into building facilities but teams have gone to Las Vegas for (spring training) games and made a lot of money.”
Coronado is referring to the Chicago Cubs, who have recorded 16 sellouts over the past 11 seasons for their annual Big League Weekend visits to Cashman Field. This spring they will host the New York Mets, which is the major league affiliate of the host Las Vegas 51s, on March 31 and April 1.
Las Vegas Convention and Vistor Authority president Rossi Ralenkotter neither confirmed nor denied Coronado’s concerns. “Las Vegas has had a long, successful partnership with Major League Baseball for our annual Big League Weekend,” Ralenkotter said in a statement to the Review-Journal. “We’re very excited about hosting the National League Championship Series rematch with the Cubs and Mets later this month. We’ve also hosted baseball’s winter meetings and continue to have a good relationship with the Pacific Coast League through our hometown Las Vegas 51s. “We’re proud of our baseball history, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the league.”
That said, the Triple-A 51s have been stymied in their attempt get public funding to help replace dilapidated Cashman Field.