Valley spring training crowds down from year ago

Mar 25, 2011, 6:50 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm

PHOENIX — Attendance at Cactus League spring training games is way down this year — with the exception of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies who share the new Salt River Fields stadium in Scottsdale, according to USA Today.

All but one of the remaining 13 Cactus League teams — the Texas Rangers — show attendance declines as the spring season winds down this weekend, the newspaper reported. Ten of the 15 teams have double-digit losses and four teams have dropped more than 20 percent. Overall, attendance at spring games in Arizona is down 3.2 percent from a year ago. Without the Rockies and D-backs, attendance in Arizona is down 14 percent.

At Salt River Fields, the Diamondbacks and Rockies — who trained in Tucson a year ago — are drawing big. The Rockies are up 104 percent to 10,219 a game, and the Dbacks have jumped 58 percent, to 10,666 a game.

“Our attendance is off the charts with our new ballpark, which may come at the expense of the other teams,” said Dbacks CEO Ken Kendrick.

Some of baseball’s legendary teams are among the biggest sufferers. Attendance at home spring training games of the Los Angeles Dodgers is down 19.5 percent, at Chicago Cubs’ games it’s down 21 percent.

In Florida’s Grapefruit League, attendance has held steady, down by less than 1 percent from a year ago. Only the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have double-digit declines among the 15 teams.

While attendance might be down, News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Bob McClay found some satisified fans at a Dodgers-Rockies game in Glendale this week.

Brett Evanson of Seattle loves spring play.

“Oh, it’s always great facilities. You get to see the young guys playing with the veterans, and you get to see what your teams going to be like,” hopefully.”

Evanson likes to go to stadiums across the Valley.

“We got a great new facility in a couple of different places,” he said. “Some of them might need to be updated, but most of them are pretty nice fields.”

Mary Lopez of Phoenix knows one thing that needs improvement: “They need a lot closer parking for people to walk to the park.”

But, asked if she would come back, she said, “Yes, definitely.”

Mike Hoffman brought his family to the Valley from Vancouver, Wash., and said they had a good time at spring training games.

“It was very casual. You get to sit close. You get to see the players interacting with fans and so that’s stuff you don’t normally get to see when you go to a big league game. And it’s sunny. It’s a great way to relax and to hang out with family.”

Cactus League games continue at stadiums around the Valley through Tuesday.


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