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Hotels say sports fans continue to flock to Southwest Florida despite Spring Training delays

Spring Training
Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 10:44:10-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the start of the major league baseball (MLB) season now canceled, the big Southwest Florida question is what happens to the millions of spring training dollars our economy depends on.

On Wednesday, a day after MLB players and owners could not agree, the Crown Plaza hotel was still full of spring training fans who've traded the stands for a bar stool.

“We aren’t really seeing any cancellations,” said Crown Plaza General Manager Jim Larkin.

That's because Larkin said baseball fans booked their reservations back in the fall.

“They originally had plans that they wanted to go to some spring training games but they really are happy to get out of that cold weather,” said Larkin.

Back on Monday Fox 4 spoke with families walking around Hammond Stadium where the Minnesota Twins play their spring ball.

One of the families includes Tim Freeberg who said, for his family, the delays aren’t causing them to travel any less.

“There's still beaches,” said Freeberg.

On Wednesday, Bill Waichulis, the Senior Vice President of Operations at the Pink Shell Beach Resort said the number of people visiting the beaches and businesses is booming.

“Going to one of the games is an activity, but we are not seeing them not coming down I mean the weather is still 30s and 40s and we are 85 degrees and sunny,” said Waichulis.

Larkin adds that while he's expecting the month of March to be on track with pre-pandemic numbers, he said the MLB's ongoing lockout will likely still mean a few strikeouts.

It is going to impact our food and beverage sale for our restaurants and I think some of the restaurants around the stadium will probably see a decrease in what they would normally see had we had those games going on,” said Larkin.