Frances bows out; Soccer's loyal fans; Orange golf balls; SOCCER; How now pro attendance?

With major league baseball parks closed, one might have anticpated an upswing in soccer attendance. It just hasn't happened, not that the North American Soccer League ever thought it would.

"From the very beginning we never looked on the baseball strike as a happy occurrence," said Vince Casey, the league's public relations director. "A bad sports atmosphere hurts everyone. The strike has created a distaste for professional sports that can't be measured but may have led to a general layoff in fan interest."

Though some franchises in cities with baseball teams report attendance increases, others have actually witnessed a falloff. As a result, overall attendance remains about the same as last year, which is to say between 14,000 and 15,000 a game.

Casey said the NASL never really expected many baseball fans to cross over to soccer because soccer appeals to a distinct group. Surveys have shown that NASL audiences are 35 percent female. They also include many soccer-playing youngsters and their families.

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