- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2001


Fans return to ballparks today concerned about more than pennant races. Many are scared they could be targets for terrorists.
From stadiums on college campuses to sparkling new baseball parks, attending a game might never be the same.
"I don't know when we'll ever feel normal again," said Don Fitch as he unloaded his golf clubs across the street from Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. "I think I'll still have some fear."
Around the country this weekend, people spoke of the unease of returning to games. They're jittery and unsure where terrorists might strike next.
But many also said they would not allow the attacks in New York and Washington to keep them out of ballparks.
"The American spirit is to go on with life," Travis Caddell said. "I wouldn't have any concerns going to a game."
Sitting yesterday with a friend watching old Muhammad Ali fights on TV at a restaurant in North Richland, Texas, Caddell said he has every intention of using his tickets to next Sunday's Dallas Cowboy game against San Diego.
"No change in my plans," Caddell said.
Many people voiced that same determination, saying they planned to attend games of their favorite teams.
"We'll never forget, but we won't let terrorists rule our lives," said Mike Seeley of San Francisco.
Seeley spent part of Saturday in line at Oakland Coliseum for tickets to Athletics playoff games. In front of him stood Mark McDonald, a fan from Antioch, Calif.
"If they hadn't canceled the game on Wednesday I would have been there," McDonald said. "I wanted to get back to normal. We didn't know how to deal with something like this as a nation, so I thought the best thing would be to go back to everything we used to do."
Baseball officials said they are uncertain how the terrorist attacks will affect attendance when games resume today. They're hoping for normal crowds, and say there hasn't been a flood of requests for refunds on tickets.
At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, spokesman Luis Garcia said today's game had an advance sale of about 25,000 but that it was anyone's guess how many people show up.
"They might stay home or they might come out in a show of solidarity in even greater numbers," Garcia said.
Earlier, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue sought to reassure fans that the league could keep them safe at games, as it did during the Gulf War when fans were searched going into the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., and planes patrolled over the stadium.
"We're not overly concerned," Tagliabue said. "We went through the experience of the World Trade Center bombing and Oklahoma City."
At the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., yesterday, some fans milled around for what was supposed to be the Lions' game against the Cowboys. They might have been disappointed there was no game, but no one was asking to trade in tickets.
"We were told that some people may come here and try to get reimbursed or redeem their tickets," Silverdome security guard Chad Boyce said. "Nobody has shown up here at all. It's been very quiet."
It was quiet in the Fort Worth, Texas, suburb of Keller, too, where George Haddad is the general manager of the Papa G Sports Bar and Grill.
On a normal Sunday, the bar would have been packed with Cowboys fans, but he was getting ready to close. Haddad's mood matched the atmosphere.
"It seems that the targets have been where the masses of people are. I don't want to be a victim of ungodly acts," Haddad said. "Yes, I will have concerns. Definitely."
So will Nora Crawford, a UCLA student who was serving cocktails in a Westwood restaurant.
"I'm scared, just going to UCLA," Crawford said. "The Rose Bowl is an easy target. Right now, I wouldn't go to a game."
The fans aren't the only ones worried. Players are, too, though most said they believed security would be tightened enough to stop any major attacks.
"You always sit back and wonder after something like this happens why it hasn't happened at a major sporting event like a Super Bowl or a Final Four or something like that," Chicago Bears quarterback Shane Matthews said. "They're going to have to make sure those arenas are very, very secure because you just never know. There are so many crazy people out there."
Chicago White Sox outfielder Chris Singleton admits he will be nervous when he goes back onto the field.
"I would say it's going to take some guts and courage," Singleton said. "But I think each player will be able to draw on the courage of the people in New York right now that are going into those buildings trying to save lives."
Many fans said their fears had already begun to fade as the days went on. Outside the new Steelers stadium yesterday, Kevin Weaver said he would not be deterred from going to games.
"Terrorism can strike anywhere," said Weaver, of Wooster, Ohio. "I'm going to live my life as much as I can. You can't get too uptight and start living your life differently."

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