PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks have clinched a spot in the World Series, and Valley hotels, restaurants and transportation services are gearing up for an increase in visitors.
The biggest baseball event of the year returns to Arizona for the first time since 2001.
The Diamondbacks are guaranteed to host two games against the Texas Rangers at Chase Field, with the possibility of a third. Game 3 and Game 4 will take place Monday and Tuesday, with a potential Game 5 on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans are expected to bring money to local businesses.
Feb. 13, the Monday after the Super Bowl, was the busiest day in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport history, as over 200,000 visitors came through the airport, according to Sky Harbor data.
The airport expects another influx in traffic and will increase customer service staff, according to Heather Shelbrack, deputy aviation director for public relations.
The airport will handle the traveler increase in the same manner it did during the Super Bowl. To handle the crowds during that large sporting event, the airport worked with the host committee, National Football League, airlines, Transportation Security Administration and car rental companies to “ensure special operational plans and additional staff were in place,” Shelbrack said in an email.
Despite a concession workers’ strike, the airport is unconcerned about being able to provide services to visitors. “We are monitoring this very closely and working with our airport partners to ensure there is minimal disruption to airport passengers as workers and their employers continue their dialogue,” Shelbrack said.
The airport has volunteer navigators stationed throughout the airport that are recognizable by their purple shirts and jackets. They answer questions and provide directions, Shelbrack said.
“We’re very excited to welcome visitors for the World Series,” Shelbrack said. “We’ve welcomed fans from around the world for various events over the years, and we again look forward to providing them excellent customer service.”
Regional transit agency Valley Metro will be increasing light rail service for the World Series, according to Juliana Vasquez-Keating, public information officer for Valley Metro. The light rail has stops within a few blocks of Chase Field.
Valley Metro served more than 250,000 people during Super Bowl LVII events and 220,000 during NCAA Final Four events in 2017, according to Vasquez-Keating, who said the agency expects another increase in ridership for the World Series.
The agency encourages riders to download the Valley Metro mobile app, which allows them to track trains and look at transit schedules. Riders are also advised to purchase a mobile pass, which costs $4 per day.
The light rail is the best option to get to Chase Field, said Brittany Hoffman, public information specialist for Valley Metro. “Parking costs $50+ at some of these parking garages, and so unless you have a clown car of people, the economical way is to take the light rail for $4 and get all of your people downtown safely,” she said.
During the Phoenix Suns’ playoff games in April and May, Valley Metro saw an influx of passengers who used public transit to get to Footprint Center. The agency expects even more riders during the World Series because of the roughly 48,000 seats that Chase Field offers compared to Footprint Center’s roughly 18,000 seats, Hoffman said.
“We are ready for all of the fans flooding down to Chase Field and all the activities that are going to be taking place in downtown Phoenix over the next week,” Hoffman said, noting operations teams will be on a 24-hour schedule to prepare.
Carmen DeAlba, Phoenix Department of Public Transit public information specialist, said public transit “definitely relieves the traffic and congestion that happens downtown during these big games.”
DeAlba recommends Valley Metro riders be aware of safety while riding the trains. She said even though there are security guards and emergency call buttons on the trains, riders still should ride with a “see something, say something” mindset.
“When there’s more people, of course, there’s a lot more going on,” DeAlba said. “We prioritize everyone’s safety, and we just look forward to everyone having a good time.”
As for fans using Phoenix freeways to get to the games, the Arizona Department of Transportation recommends drivers allow extra travel time, said spokesperson Doug Nintzel.
“Tuesday’s afternoon commute on Valley freeways is expected to be busier than normal due to commuters heading home for Halloween and fans traveling into downtown,” Nintzel wrote in an email. “Hence the need to try to arrive early.”
When it comes to attending sporting events that have large crowds, people are advised to stay patient, said Sgt. Brian Bower, a Phoenix Police Department spokesperson.
“Be patient when you’re driving, be patient when you’re parking, and more importantly, enjoy,” Bower said.
Officers will be directing traffic outside of Chase Field, Bower said. He recommended that if visitors get lost, they ask officers questions and keep a “mental note” of where their car or train is located.
Bower said Phoenix police are trained to handle crowds at sporting events and that the World Series will not “take away from the normal communities’ law enforcement services.”
“We have certain things … in motion that we are going to be able to … support the security needs in the downtown,” Bower said.
The World Series won’t be the first large sporting event to take place in the Valley this year. In addition to the Super Bowl LVII and Phoenix Suns’ playoff games, the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Fiesta Bowl also brought economic vitality.
The Super Bowl generated $1.3 billion in economic activity and attracted 103,000 out-of-state visitors, according to Josh Coddington, director of communications for the Arizona Office of Tourism, who cited studies by Arizona State University’s Seidman Research Institute. The 2017 Men’s Final Four generated $324.5 million in economic impact and attracted 60,000 out-of-state visitors. Other sporting events with notable economic impact included:
- 2016 College Football National Championship Game: $274 million
- NASCAR Championship Weekend since 2020: $450 million
- Waste Management Phoenix Open annually: $277 million
- Fiesta Bowl annually: $170 million
Coddington said hotels, restaurants and bars will be ready for more foot traffic as the World Series approaches.
“(Phoenix) will roll out the red carpet to make people who are traveling here … feel welcome,” Coddington said. “They help people connect with things to do in Arizona outside of just going to the game.”
Coddington recommended visitors who come from out of state visit places such as Sedona and Tucson to experience the “great things that are close” in Arizona. He said Chase Field is also an opportune location for visitors.
“There’s a lot of things that are closer in proximity,” he said of downtown Phoenix. “Great places to eat, cultural attractions, museums. … Chase Field, fortunately for us, really provides an opportunity.”
Downtown restaurant Cornish Pasty Co. is gearing up for the World Series.
“The street traffic is unbelievable,” said general manager Jimmy Downey. “We’re planning to be really busy.”
The World Series is a benefit to the local businesses downtown Phoenix, said Thomas Barr, vice president of business development at Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect people, locally-owned businesses and communities to build the Arizona economy.
“This is a huge opportunity for local businesses to take advantage of the energy and the momentum in town,” Barr said.
Barr hopes local businesses will extend their hours, offer discounts or sell sports novelties or memorabilia to attract customers.
“We’re encouraging businesses to just get creative with it and have fun with it,” Barr said of the World Series. “It brings hometown pride, it brings a connection to a place, it reinforces that we should all care about where we live. … We are so excited for the Diamondbacks, and we’re so excited that we have this opportunity.”