BARCELONA, Spain, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Barcelona's Monumental bullfighting ring was packed with 20,000 spectators Sunday for the final confrontations between man and bull to be held there.
Bullfighters Tomas and Safin Marin were carried from the ring into the streets by exuberant fans after the toreadors dispatched their four-legged foes, The New York Times reported. Some spectators rushed into the ring to grab some sand for souvenirs.
The end of bullfighting in the region was written last year when the Catalan Parliament, bowing to pressure from animal rights activists, voted to ban the corrida events, the Times said.
While still a popular summer festival activity in many communities across Spain, government statistics show the number of bullfights has dropped from 2,622 in 2007 to 1,724 last year, coinciding with the country's economic woes, the Times said.
The Times said the cost of the events has forced cancellations of not only bullfights but entire festivals.
The slump has been particularly hard on the Spanish farms that breed fighting bulls. A number of such farms were opened recently as investment properties by businessmen who were thriving in the boom times a few years ago.
"A lot of bulls will just have to stay out on the field, which in economic terms is a disaster," said Leopoldo de la Maza, who has a farm in Andalusia. "Next year will be for sure as hard as this year, if not worse, because we already have to absorb with this year's excess supply."
The Times said fighting bulls sent to slaughter fetch only a fraction of the average of 6,000 euros ($8,128) a good combatant in a major city bullring normally brings.