Orioles vs. White Sox game will be closed to public

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There will be no cheering from baseball fans Wednesday in Baltimore when the Orioles play the White Sox at Camden Yards. The ballpark will be empty, Major League Baseball made the unprecedented decision Tuesday afternoon to close the game to the public.

Major League Baseball and Baltimore police are looking to avoid a repeat of a situation Saturday when protestors rushed Camden Yards, causing the park to keep fans inside until they received an all-clear.

"I can't imagine playing in front of an empty stadium," says Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel, who used to play for Baltimore. "I understand protesting and things of that nature, but the violence isn't the key and when you can't even have people go out and enjoy a ballgame because it's unsafe, that's tough."

Never before has a Major League baseball game been played without any fans in the stands. In 1997, the Sox came close with only 746 people inside Comiskey for a cold April game against Toronto.

The Baltimore decision has many baseball fans stumped.

"What's the point?" asks baseball fan Samuel Smith. "Isn't the game for the fans? Why play?"

"They chose the least objectionable option but none of the options were good," says sports industry consultant Marc Ganis.

Ganis says the players union limits the number of days available for make-up games. But he says a TV-only game will cost the Orioles.

"Ticket sales, concessions, parking far exceeds the value the Orioles are getting per game from a regional sports network," Ganis says. "So attendance is still the driving force baseball. The stadiums aren't simply studios."

Why not move the game to the Cell? Experts say the logistics of moving two baseball teams, their equipment, staffing-up a stadium and selling seats makes that next to impossible with less than 24-hours' notice.
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