Downtown Mesa makes pitch to lure more spring training fans - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Downtown Mesa makes pitch to lure more spring training fans

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Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 6:04 am | Updated: 12:53 pm, Fri Jul 5, 2013.

The Chicago Cubs have a $138 million economic impact in Arizona, but much of that money leaves Mesa because the team’s spring training complex doesn’t have a single business nearby.

The city’s downtown is trying to steer more fan spending its way this year by launching a more robust marketing campaign than in the past. Individual businesses have done some things on their own but wanted more support, said David Short, executive director of the Downtown Mesa Association.

“Last year, we got a lot of feedback from the businesses that they’d like to see more of an effort,” Short said.

The Cubs’ fan base has a huge economic potential for businesses. The team drew more than 160,000 fans last year, and games usually attract more than 10,000 fans per game to Hohokam Stadium. The Cubs are typically the most popular Cactus League team or the runner-up. A study found the team’s economic impact statewide is $138 million.

The DMA’s marketing campaign includes a banner in right field to promote downtown, a full-page ad in the Cubs’ program and working with businesses to develop spring training discounts.

Patrons can bring ticket stubs to some restaurants and stores to get a break. The organization will use the stubs to track the performance of its marketing campaign.

Downtown is less than two miles from Hohokam Stadium. Short said many tourists stay in other cities and probably eat and shop there.

“I think people kind of get in their routines and have their favorite spots,” he said. “Our goal is for those who haven’t tried downtown Mesa to give it a try because we do have a huge selection of restaurants and quality food.”

Downtown Mesa has slowly added new shops and restaurants in recent years as merchants and the city have worked to make the area more vibrant. And there’s been a push to lure a microbrewery, which is seen as a key to establish a nightlife downtown.

There’s been some progress, but spring training fans will have to wait until 2013. Two Mesa men announced last week they will open the Desert Eagle Brewing Company on Main Street this summer. And the Monsterland haunted house and horror museum that opened last year is adding a bar and grill component later this spring.

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