Expensive nest

December 31, 1997

PLEASE SIGN BRADY, Orioles fans pleaded. Brady Anderson, the team's all-star outfielder is a steal at $31 million for the next five years, experts assured.

Yet fans don't make the connection between fabulous salaries for their favorite players and ticket price increases, such as the 15 percent hike the Orioles just announced. If the team were scrimping, as it was in the Eli Jacobs era, fans would have a legitimate beef. But the team had the second-highest payroll last year, and made the playoffs a second straight season because of it.

Is Joe Fan getting squeezed out?

The popularity of modern sports is forcing folks to change habits -- not a gentle thing in Baltimore where Opening Day is the real New Year's. Some fans won't be able to attend as many games, just as Camden Yards' sellouts have curtailed buying good seats on game day.

The financial structure of sports has become lunacy with middling players signing for tens of millions. Perhaps it will all crumble some day. But basic economics suggest that as long as demand at Oriole Park remains strong, ticket prices will move higher.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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