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Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warm climates of Arizona to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play.
While Florida and Arizona now host all Major League Baseball teams for spring training, this has not always been the case. Especially in the early 20th century, baseball clubs did not build facilities dedicated to spring training and would use local facilities in various cities, sometimes changing spring training sites on an annual basis. The Cleveland Indians, for example, held spring training in seven different cities - including New Orleans, Dallas, and Macon, Georgia - between 1902 and 1922. This was not uncommon at the time. During World War II, most teams held an abbreviated spring training within easy reach of their cities. In order to conserve rail transport during the war, 1943's Spring Training was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The Chicago White Sox held camp in French Lick, Indiana; the Washington Senators in College Park, Maryland; and the New York Yankees in Asbury Park, New Jersey. After World War II, some teams trained outside of the United States. The Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, and in the Dominican Republic in 1948. The New York Yankees also trained in the early 1950s in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Spring training camps and games were also held in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and various cities of northern Mexico, sometimes by visiting major league teams in the 1950s and 1960s. Before and shortly after big league baseball reached the West Coast, a number of teams trained in the state of California or along the state line.
Today, teams generally train in either Florida or Arizona based on their geographic location in the U.S., with eastern teams playing in Florida and western teams training in Arizona. In modern training, teams that train in Florida will play other Florida-training teams in their exhibition games, regardless of regular-season league affiliations. Likewise, Arizona-training teams will play other Arizona teams. These have been nicknamed the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively, after plants typical of the respective states.
Spring training in Arizona is located in Maricopa County. Unlike the Grapefruit League, teams in the Cactus League often share stadiums. Of the 15 teams who train in Arizona, only the Cubs, Angels, Brewers, Giants and A's have their own home stadiums. The newest stadium built for MLB spring training is Sloan Park, the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona, which opened in February 2014. According to the Arizona Republic, the Cactus League generates more than $300 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area economy. The Arizona Republic newspaper reports that more than $500 million has been spent on "building eight new stadiums and renovating two others for the 15 teams in the Valley." Attendance set a new record at the 2011 Cactus League games with 1.59 million attending games at the various stadiums in the Phoenix metro area.
*Information courtesy of Wikipedia