The Arizona Republic
Cactus League fans spent an estimated $359.5 million in 2009, a 7 percent increase over last year, giving Arizona an economic boost at a time when it needed help the most.
Two new teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians, helped contribute to the increase, as did the addition of a week’s worth of games. The Cactus League played 246 games in 2009 during a five-week season, compared with 177 during four weeks in 2008. This year’s numbers included 11 World Baseball Classic exhibition games, which, for the most part, were sparsely attended.
While the net attendance was up 20 percent, per-game attendance dropped about 1,000 from a year ago. But last spring was a particularly strong season and missed the fallout from the recession, which took hold in the summer and fall, said Robert Brinton, the Cactus League’s president.
In Tucson, the Arizona Diamondbacks drew 121,281 fans to 18 games and the Colorado Rockies drew 75,557 to 16 games.
The Chicago White Sox, who played their first season in Glendale after moving from Tucson, drew 91,782 fans to 15 games.
“Spring training delivered at a time when we really needed it,” Brinton said. “It’s the spring-training stimulus package, better than a government one. It’s like having a Super Bowl every year.”
Cactus League officials estimated that the economic impact of fan spending was $335 million in 2008 and $311 million in 2007.
According to Major League Baseball, overall spring-training attendance in both the Cactus League and Florida’s Grapefruit League was up 3.3 percent.
Arizona’s 20 percent increase more than offset Florida’s 7 percent decrease.
The Grapefruit League surpassed the Cactus League in total attendance, but that is likely to change next year when the Cincinnati Reds move to Goodyear, joining the Cleveland Indians.
Attendance at the Cactus League’s 246 games in 2009 was 1.58 million, up from 1.32 million at 177 games for 12 teams in 2008. Average attendance for the league’s 14 teams fell from 7,436 per game in 2008 to 6,418 in 2009.
Average attendance in 2009 :
1. Cubs 10,690
2. Dodgers 9,130
3. Giants 8,476
4. Mariners 6,927
5. Diamondbacks 6,738
6. White Sox 6,119
14. Rockies 4,722
*Excludes 2009 World Baseball Classic games.
UA hoops fans optimistic about Miller era
Re: UA basketball team will have buzz . . . in weaker Pac-10
• I have a lot of faith in the ability of new UA coach Sean Miller and his staff – more than I had in Lute Olson in the past few years. However, I think you are underestimating the rest of the Pac-10. A lot will depend on how many more recruits Miller lands in the next month. Right now, he needs more bodies to hold a decent practice. I look for the Cats to start slowly as the players and Miller get to know each other and finish strong at the end. Who knows if that will be enough? I prefer to keep expectations low and cut some slack. . . . I think Miller is a great hire, but it sure was torturous getting there. RJW52
• Enthusiasm is justified! The program was in total disarray after USC’s Tim Floyd rejected Jim Livengood’s offer. Now we have a skilled coach, two top 100 recruits we never thought we could get and the possibility of at least one more good recruit. BMW308428