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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S EMPTY STADIUM By Mark Hollis

In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore last month, the Baltimore Orioles management made a conscientious decision to play their third game against the Chicago White Sox on April 29th in front of an empty stadium. Public opinion in the city of Baltimore was that Major League Baseball Commissioner, Rob Manfred, acted out of fear. The riots the city experienced during that week showed an evolution of a peaceful protest into one of total mayhem. It appears that MLB envisioned that the criminal element would raise its ugly head at Camden Yards. Historically, there has never been a lockout of fans from a major league baseball game. Some individuals reacted by saying that the Baltimore Orioles chose to punish its fan base because of the insurgency. Others felt that a bit of normalcy would have gone a long way to create calm in the streets of Baltimore. Interestingly enough, the Baltimore Symphonic Orchestra, performed an open air concert outside of its symphony hall the same day of the game with no disturbance.

My personal opinion is that playing the game with fans in attendance would have had a constructive impact throughout the community and would have generated a positive energy to the situation that was occurring. The Orioles management should have taken the time to complete a thorough check of each and every individual attending the game. They could have checked ID’s, looked into bags, and completed a weapon’s check. Beefed up security prior, during, and after the game could have been initiated. Replacing paranoia with a practical approach would have allowed the fans to attend and enjoy the 8 to 2 win by their home team.

The hasty decision made by Rob Manfred could be deemed an overreaction. Realistically, he should have postponed the game or let the fans attend. But what’s not mentioned is the amount of television revenue that would have been lost by not televising the game. Mid-Atlantic Sports Network pays close to $30M to broadcast the games regionally with additional monies accrued for national televised contest. So it appears, that Manfred benefitted on both counts. They played the game in an empty stadium and still got paid for it.