Cuba bars regular fans from Orioles game
HAVANA -- (AP) -- Only people invited by the Cuban government will be able
to attend Sunday's exhibition game between the Baltimore Orioles and a national
Cuban team, a decision sure to provoke grumbling from the legions of die-hard
baseball fanatics who are used to attending games without restriction.
Even before the announcement, the rumor of restricted attendance had swept
through the city, producing predictably negative reactions from ordinary Cubans.
``That wouldn't be fair,'' a 21-year-old fan of the hometown Industriales
his name only as Camilo said Wednesday night at a raucous playoff game at the
Latinoamericano stadium. ``We are the true fans. We come for every game.''
But on Thursday, the rumor became official: ``There will be no sale of
the stadium,'' Reinaldo Calviac, director of the International Press Center, said at a
``When there are massive events like this, it is not possible that the
goes. Everything must be by invitation.''
There was no immediate information on exactly who would be invited, but
authorities said it was likely that the invitations would go to members of
organizations such as government schools and sports clubs.
The invitations will be highly coveted. Even though the rustic Latinoamericano
stadium built in 1946 -- where Sunday's game will be played -- holds 50,000
people, the number of baseball aficionados who will be shut out is sure to be high.
Among those who will be allowed in on game day are about 600 journalists
accredited for the event, including more than 400 foreigners, about 320 of them
working for U.S. media.
Also in attendance will be a group of 100 Baltimore-area students -- including
inner-city boys from a Baltimore Jesuit middle school, who arrived in Havana on
It will be the first time in 40 years that a Major League team has played
Big leaguers used to come to the island regularly before the 1959 revolution that
brought Fidel Castro to power.
Because it is only an exhibition game, Cuban officials are downplaying
``The most important game, the most interesting games right now in Cuba
playoff games,'' Industriales coach Juan Gomez said Wednesday night before his
team beat Isla de Juventud and earned a spot in the final, to be held after Sunday's
``That's the most important thing: to be national champion.''