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PHOENIX -- With MLB spring training right around the corner, one Valley city is marketing itself to people who are dealing with the cold, snow and ice back east.

There are great deals for people who are coming from out of town to visit Mesa, Ariz. Starting Feb. 25, Southwest Airlines will offer a special deal -- one which is being advertised in cold weather cities and features special offers in the east Valley city.

The package deal offers discounts on Mesa hotel rates. The amount that travelers can save depends on which hotel they decide to stay in.

"The deal is targeted to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Minneapolis," said Michelle Streeter, a spokeswoman for the group Visit Mesa. "Those are all of our growth markets."

Similar discounts were offered through Allegiant Airlines and US Airways last month. Streeter said they were a huge success.

"Our room rate production was up over 153 percent over last year at this time," she said.

Meanwhile, Mesa has a digital marketing campaign that is targeting six states and Canada. Streeter said the city is aggressively getting out the message that people can trade their coats and snow shovels back home for plenty of sunshine and desert warmth in Mesa.

Visit Mesa isn't the only Arizona group to recently kick off a campaign to draw visitors from out of state. In January, the Arizona Office of Tourism installed a large billboard -- with gigantic flip flops smashing in two prop vehicles -- in Chicago as part of its "Warm Up in AZ" campaign.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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