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Cactus League attendance drops overall, but Cubs fans still lead pack

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PHOENIX — Overall attendance at 2018 Cactus League games dropped off from last year, but officials said per game averages during the shorter season went up.

The East Valley Tribune reported attendance at the 10 parks spread across the Valley was 1.77 million, down from last year’s record crowds of nearly 2 million.

The Chicago Cubs led both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues with 222,023 total fans and averaged almost 14,000 per game, Sports Business Daily reported two days after the March 27 spring training finale.

The Cubs averaged about 13,876 fans at Sloan Park and had the five largest crowds of the spring. Last year they averaged 14,854 a game.

“(The Cubs) are such a strong component of the Cactus League. We are so fortunate they are part of it,” Cactus League President Jeff Meyer told the Tribune.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were next in total attendance with 166,063 fans, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.

The exhibition season was shaved by two days from the usual number and started earlier — the first games were played Feb. 21. The change was a domino effect of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining unit, which gave teams more days off during the regular season.

A year ago, 1.99 million watched the 15 teams, setting a Cactus League mark.

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