By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
The Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon in an empty stadium. It’s nothing either team did but with the current situation in Charm City, the powers that be came to the conclusion to play a day game instead of a night game with no fans in the stadium. While it may seem odd it isn’t the first time a sporting event has been played in an empty stadium.
Major League Baseball (MLB) faced a similar situation over two decades ago in Los Angeles when the Rodney King riots broke out and shut down the city. The LA Dodgers and Montreal Expos made up the games later in the year with three doubleheaders in three days. The Orioles and White Sox will not have to do that but the Orioles will be a “home team” in Tampa this weekend as Major League Baseball moved the weekend series against the Rays from Baltimore to Tampa.
The empty stadium situation is not unprecedented in sports. UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, has played games in empty stadiums before. In just about every case it was a punishment for racist conduct by a team’s supporters. Most recently CSKA Moscow supporters where locked out of Champions League matches against Manchester City and AS Roma after racist chants in precious Champions League matches. While locking fans out of a stadium is punishment in Europe, it is a matter of safety in Baltimore.
Not everyone agrees with the decision by Major League Baseball but it is their decision none the less. The fact is that baseball is a business. As a business you have to make business decisions while also being mindful of your employees and customers safety. MLB and the Orioles are doing that. Hopefully they nor anyone other league or franchise will have to make similar decisions anytime soon.