With Baltimore still smoldering following an outbreak of violent protests, and the National Guard patrolling the streets of the city, Major League Baseball’s Orioles have already postponed two straight home games – and they’ve just announced they’ll play on Wednesday in an empty stadium.
“After consultation with Major League Baseball and city and local officials, tomorrow’s game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox will be closed to the public,” the team said in a statement. “The Orioles will also play their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, scheduled for May 1-3, at Tropicana Field in Florida, while serving as the home team.”
The announcement came one day after Orioles executive John Angelos, the son of team owner Peter Angelos, responded to criticism of the protestors with a lengthy statement that pointed towards “a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere…living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”
On Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens announced they were canceling a Thursday night NFL Draft party at M&T Bank Stadium, citing a citywide curfew put in place once protests turned violent. More than 15 police officers were injured and over 200 people were arrested as riots broke out in West Baltimore on Monday, following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died on April 19 from spinal injuries he sustained while in police custody.
The tactic of keeping fans from games has occasionally been used in soccer – it’s referred to as a “behind closed doors” policy – usually to punish teams whose supporters engage in rowdy behavior or racial harassment of opposing players or fans. In 2009, Mexico’s Primera Division kept fans from attending several games to curb the spread of swine flu. It’s unclear if the practice has ever been used in America’s professional leagues.