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Early start, cold weather, pricey tix, depleted teams add up to smaller spring training crowds

Crowds at spring training baseball games are down this year, with several factors conspiring to cut into attendance.

Exhibition games started more than a week earlier this year to help major leaguers get ready for the World Baseball Classic. The games in February were under way before a lot of fans had arrived in Florida and Arizona on vacation and spring break.

Overall attendance is down by about 14 percent over last year, according to totals compiled by STATS.

Chilly weather led to empty seats in many ballparks. Fans have mentioned they've noticed watered-down lineups that are the result of injuries, players taking part in the WBC and other regulars resting up.

High ticket prices also were a factor. It can cost more than $50 a ticket for some exhibition games.