Cactus League sees record-breaking year for spring training

Buoyed by a rainout-free season, Arizona’s 15 Cactus League clubs drew a record 1,941,347 fans during the 2017 season, breaking the previous mark of 1,902,903 set in 2015.

“We’re grateful for the Major League Baseball fans who flocked to ballparks across Maricopa County this spring,” Cactus League president Jeff Meyer said in a press release. “These numbers show that the Cactus League is as robust and popular as ever.”

The overall record attendance total includes games played in the Cactus League’s 10 ballparks as well as two games between the Cubs and the Reds in Las Vegas that drew a combined 22,740, a release states.

The attendance figure includes 11 games against World Baseball Classic teams but does not count games against college squads. The 2017 Cactus League season ran from Friday, Feb. 24 to Saturday, April 1, according to a press release.

Weather often affects attendance. The Cactus League did not have a single rainout this year, but it did endure nine straight days with temperatures in the 90s.

The Chicago Cubs were the Cactus League’s strongest draw for the fourth straight season. The 2016 World Series champions drew a record 251,899 in 17 games — an average of 14,818 at Sloan Park, the league’s largest ballpark with a capacity of 15,000.

Five of the top seven crowds in Cactus League history turned out in 2017, all at Sloan Park. Meanwhile, five clubs — Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado and Oakland — set their single-game attendance records.

The defending American League champion Cleveland Indians saw the Cactus League’s largest attendance jump, from 5,442 fans per game to 6,345 per game at Goodyear Ballpark.

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