MLB lockout could have a major league impact on SWFL businesses

Published: December 2, 2021 5:30 PM EST
Updated: December 2, 2021 6:05 PM EST

Major league baseball is in its first lockout in more than 25 years. It means there’s no work getting done between the owners and players and is threatening spring training and even opening day.

The two parties are in an ongoing clash about salaries, rights and benefits.

MLB’s lockout isn’t just an issue for the players, it can also have an impact on businesses in Southwest Florida that rely on customers coming to the area for spring training.

Fat Katz Sports Bar in Fort Myers is one of those businesses.

Theresa, a waitress at Fat Katz said, “the bar is always pretty steady, but when the Red Sox and the Twins are in town, we’re like standing room only when the games are starting.”

But if spring training isn’t in full swing come February and March because of the baseball lockout, lots of customers might not stop by the bar.

“It would definitely impact us from both stadiums. The red sox and the twins it would be it’d be a lot slower around here for sure,” said Theresa.

For the fine folks at Fine Folks Pizza, the closest pizza place to Jet Blue Park, if spring training is doesn’t happen it means less dough in their pockets.

“I built my pizzeria here. I was like, yes, you know, we’re right next to the Sox,” said Mike Denunzio, owner of Fine Folks Pizza.

“I think a lot of local businesses are would be stressed about that. It’s such an important aspect of our local economy here in Fort Myers.”

Denunzio estimates a $6,000 a week loss. Multiply that by eight or nine weeks and that’s a major league loss in revenue.

His message to baseball’s owners and players, “I wish that everyone would just kind of tighten up and get back at it.”

In 2018, the Lee County Sports Development Office did a study and found that people who came to the area for spring training spent nearly $57 million in restaurants, stores and hotels in just eight weeks.