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ATTENDANCE is picking up and the All-Star...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ATTENDANCE is picking up and the All-Star Game drew lots of positive response. Are baseball's troubles over?

One look at the major league attendance figures at the season's traditional mid-point indicates that the game's troubles are far deeper than simply anger over the extended players' strike.

The good news, locally, is that the fans' ire at baseball has waned in Baltimore. Crowds at Camden Yards are large enough that the Orioles now lead the American League in average home attendance -- 41,344. Toronto is second, more than 2,000 back.

But look at the other cities: Chicago, 24,000; New York (Yankees), 21,000; Anaheim, 20,000; Kansas City and Seattle, 18,000; Detroit and Oakland, 17,000; Minneapolis, 15,000, and poor Milwaukee, 13,000 a game.

National League laggards (Denver leads the majors with 46,000 a game) include Houston and New York (Mets), 19,000; San Francisco, 16,000, and Pittsburgh and San Diego, 13,000.

These are numbers that were common a quarter-century ago. Remember the old days at Memorial Stadium, when 20,000 was a good crowd, 30,000 was a big crowd and 15,000 was the norm? That's the way it is today in many cities. Yet the stratospheric players' salaries and other inflationary big-league expenses have to be paid. How can some of these cities continue to support a big-league baseball team? The economics of the situation doesn't seem to compute.

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