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Salt River Fields, Colorado Rockies - Image Provided by Flickr

Salt River Fields Surpasses 1 Million In Attendance

The Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) announced that Saturday’s sold out crowd of 11,576 pushed the total attendance at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick over the one-million mark since the complex opened in 2011. The shared facility between the D-backs and the Colorado Rockies, constructed in partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, reached the milestone in just 24 months of operation. The total includes all ticketed events at Salt River Fields including concerts, festivals and Spring Training games.

“It is quite an accomplishment to reach this milestone in such a short amount of time and it’s really a testament to the baseball fans throughout Arizona,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “Along with our partners at the Rockies and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, we set out to create the best Spring Training facility in all of baseball and we feel strongly that we were able to do just that.”

In addition to hosting Spring Training games from the two National League West Division teams, Salt River Fields will host four games in March as part of the World Baseball Classic. On Tuesday, March 5, the D-backs will host an exhibition night game against Team Mexico and on Wednesday, March 6, the Rockies will face Team USA in a 7:10 p.m. start. The official World Baseball Classic games will kick off on Thursday, March 6 as Team Italy faces Team Mexico in a 1:00 p.m. game followed by a 12:30 p.m. contest on Friday, March 7 between Team Canada and Team Italy.

In addition to these games, fans are invited to watch Team USA in its first official workout on Monday, March 4 at 1 p.m.

In each of its first two seasons, Salt River Fields has broken the total attendance mark for a two-team complex, as last year’s record total between the D-backs and Rockies was 369,393. The D-backs’ average attendance of 11,677 was the highest in Major League Baseball for the second consecutive season.

Following its first year, Salt River Fields was a finalist for the “Sports Facility of the Year” by Sports Business Journal. The facility has earned LEED Gold Certification by the US Green Building Council and has received numerous awards including “Best Place to See a Spring Training Game” by the Phoenix New Times, “Best Spring Training Facility” by Arizona Foothills magazine and “Ballpark of the Year” by Ballpark Digest, BaseballParks.com and Digitalparks.com.

The largest one-day event on record at Salt River Fields came in January 2012, when more than 20,000 people came to the facility for Street Eats.

Salt River Fields’ 2013 calendar already touts several major events: April 20 is the 4th Annual Arizona Barbecue Festival with 12,000 expected to attend; the Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Charity Softball Game April 27, when approximately 5,000 are anticipated; and the Independence Day Music Festival July 3, with more than 14,000 attending last year to see Country Music powerhouses Miranda Lambert and Darius Rucker.

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NHL cancels first 2 weeks of games

The first two weeks of the NHL regular season, a total of 82 games from Oct. 11 to Oct. 24, have been canceled, the league announced Thursday.

“The cancellation was necessary because of the absence of a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL,” the league said on its website.

The NHL locked out its players Sept. 15, when the collective bargaining agreement expired. After talks between the league and the union broke off after a two-hour bargaining session Tuesday, no negotiations have been scheduled.

The central point of contention is how to split hockey-related revenue. The owners are demanding that the players’ share of revenue drop from 57 percent to about 47 percent, a pay cut of approximately 17.5 percent. The union has offered to accept diminished pay raises that would reduce players’ share of revenue to about 53 percent.

This is the third time since 1994 that the NHL has lost games to a lockout.

The list of players signing with European clubs continued to grow. Among those who signed deals Thursday were Philadelphia Flyers stars Claude Giroux and Danny Briere, who both agreed to join Eisbaren Berlin, a powerful team in the top German league. Briere has sole custody of his three children, and his decision to go overseas could be taken as a sign that the lockout might drag on for a long time.

About 100 players have signed with foreign teams since the lockout began. During the 2004-5 lockout, when the entire season was canceled, nearly 400 players joined European leagues.