1946-present: Today's Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues Are Born
When Arizona interests lured the Giants and the Indians for spring training in 1947, spring training was a different beast in terms of economics and schedules. Teams had trained out West many times before World War II -- most notably the Chicago Cubs, who first trained in Santa Monica in 1905 and then trained on California's Catalina Island between 1922-1942 and again in 1950-1951 -- and it was not uncommon for teams to train in California and Arizona and then barnstorm their way back home.
The Cactus League became a reality in 1947, when Horace Stoneham's New York Giants and Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians took up residence in Phoenix and Tucson, respectively. That Veeck ended up in Tucson wasn't a surprise -- he owned ranches in the Southwest and at the time owned a ranch near Tucson -- and Stoneham was a natural for Phoenix, as he developed business interests in the area.
By this time, spring training was a formalized institution. Teams realized that there was money to be made from spring training, and over the years many teams tried to combine some sort of real-estate development with spring training. Horace Stoneham ended up developing a luxury resort centered around the San Francisco Giants spring-training routines; most recently, the Kansas City Royals were lured into participating in the Boardwalk and Baseball theme park in central Florida: the Royals trained at Baseball City adjacent to a theme park with a turn-of-the-century baseball theme.
In recent years Arizona's Cactus League has made inroads in luring teams from Florida. Last season, for instance, both the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers shifted training facilities from Florida to Surprise, a suburb of Phoenix.
There has been some assaults on the Florida/Arizona spring-training setup: most recently Las Vegas officials wooed several teams in an attempt to lure four of them to train in Vegas. The efforts failed.