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Tampa Bay Airbnb users made more than $1.5 million off of spring training

Fans watch a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies on March 13, 2018 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Fla. Many visitors from up north come to Florida to watch spring training games. (MONICA HERNDON   |   Times )
Fans watch a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies on March 13, 2018 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Fla. Many visitors from up north come to Florida to watch spring training games. (MONICA HERNDON | Times )
Published Apr. 3, 2018

Airbnb hosts in Tampa and Clearwater raked in more than $1.5 million during spring training this year, with some markets seeing revenue more than double during the season, according to the home-rental app.

Rentals in Tampa, the training camp for the New York Yankees, made the bulk of that money at $906,000. Clearwater, host to the Philadelphia Phillies, and Dunedin, host to the Toronto Blue Jays, brought in $654,000 and $125,000, respectively, to its Airbnb users.

"Baseball-related tourism represents a foundational component of the local economies for these cities," Tom Martinelli, public policy director for Airbnb Florida, said in a prepared statement.

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In the five weeks leading up to spring training, the number of rentals across the state in areas that host teams weren't nearly as high, according to Airbnb.

The company estimates a spike in app users at around 92 percent in Tampa and said users more than doubled in Dunedin and Clearwater.

Florida's baseball season also falls over the weeks several universities and K-12 schools are letting students off for spring break.

Last March, Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater reported a total of 14 percent of its visitors coming from New York and Philadelphia. The agency measured the economic impact of the entire month last year at about $1.2 billion with more than 376,000 visitors.

Hotels are reaping the bulk of that money. Despite Airbnb's growing popularity, most visitors still opt for a traditional hotel stay.

In St. Petersburg, the director of The Vinoy, Vibeke Sansone, said she was near capacity for all of March.

"We're a bit of a mixed demographic," she said. "We get families, couples of all ages."

Largely, it's visitors from up north and the Midwest trying to escape the cold, she said.

Sansone said typically the type of guest seeking out an Airbnb is different than one looking for the ease and accommodations of a hotel.

Plus, she is in favor of any medium that draws people to the area. "It means more diners at (The Vinoy's) restaurants," she said.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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