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Saturday, April 15, 2006

LA Angels Spring Training Home Attendance Down From 2005

Angels' home draws raves, fewer fans
JJ Hensley

The Arizona Republic
Apr. 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Spring training put a spring in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's step, even if attendance was down this year.

The club drew 94,739 fans this year at the renovated Tempe Diablo Stadium, down from more than 106,000 a year ago. But with the club playing two fewer games and competing for fans with the World Baseball Classic, the Angels brass found the silver lining.

"We think it was a great spring training," said Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president of communications. "With the (World Baseball Classic) event there, there were a lot of people worried about how that was going to affect Cactus League play, but we think there was plenty of baseball to go around for everybody."

Overall numbers from the Cactus League back that up.

The league eclipsed the million-fan mark for the third consecutive year, drawing 1,169,030 for the 12 teams in the league. The World Baseball Classic drew more than 90,000 fans in Arizona.

The numbers league-wide and for the Angels would have been higher but a string of rainouts and a split-squad game on the final weekend of play kept some fans away, Mead said.

Still, he said, the club's revenues were up. Spring 2006 also was memorable as the year the club unveiled the redone stadium, which received a $20 million face lift in less than a year.

Mead said officials with teams throughout Major League Baseball were impressed with the club's facility, which allowed the team to move its minor leaguers into a shared facility with the big-league club.

"The people it probably meant the most to were the kids coming into the minor league camp," he said. "For them, it was, 'We're in the big leagues now.' "

And Tempe is in the big leagues, too, if only for a month.

Mead said the club has always seen a lot of the Angels' trademark scarlet hue in the stadium, but with the new facility, the team has started to create a real connection with Tempe.

"The interest is there," he said. "We've started to reach that point where we start establishing a quote-unquote, home base."

Retailers, restaurants and bars in Tempe and along Mill Avenue are getting used to seeing the effects of spring training at the cash register, too.

"Business is always great during March," and this year was no different, said Sarah Krajnak, manager of The Library,a Mill Avenue bar.

The reason, Mead said, is simple. Between the scouts and the fans, the Cactus League and the World Baseball Classic, "There was probably not a better place in the country to watch baseball than in Arizona."


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