Businesses compete for spring training profits

Posted at 10:53 PM, Mar 03, 2016

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- It's almost time to play ball!

The New York Mets' first spring training home game is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

As the players are preparing, many local businesses are also working to be at the top of their game, expecting this to be an especially profitable year.

When the Mets have a good season, some businesses find they're more profitable due to fans traveling to Port St. Lucie.

More fans means more potential customers.

For a slice of "New York Style pizza", Alan Ruiz, manager at Frank and Al's pizza knows many Mets fans will head to his restaurant.

"It's very very good for us," Ruiz said.

He's watched business come and go with the Mets' success over the last 5 years. "The first year I was here it was crazy. Then, it fell off a little bit. I guess because the Mets weren't playing their regular players as much…[now] everyone wants to see them."

His restaurant has also been asked to prepare several dozen pizzas for the home games. "40 of them. 40 big pies," Ruiz says. "I'll probably have a little anxiety tonight when I go home and go to sleep knowing I have to get up early and make sure the ovens are on, make sure everything is hot."

The competition off the diamond is getting heated between businesses.

Ruiz says more and more businesses are opening up near Tradition Field to get in on the spring training profits.

Lola's seafood is hoping to get a good cut of the cash. "It becomes very busy. We have a lot of players come in as well," said employee Melissa Canales.

Canales says the restaurant hires more chefs and weekend help to accommodate customers quickly, "Tomorrow will be very busy!"

March has been the most profitable month of the year for St. Lucie County for more than ten years, largely attributed to spring training.

This season is predicted to bring an economic impact of more than $30 million to the county.

The Mets play the Marlins Friday at 1:10.