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Is baseball the newest economic indicator?

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If you follow the stock market you know it's been a wild ride for a while now. Down 80 points one day, up 194 points today. But over the last 5 years or so another, slightly more relaxing index has proven to be a fairly accurate indicator of the health of the US economy. The number of fans attending Major League Baseball games has mimicked our economy almost exactly for the last 5 years. When the markets suddenly went in the tank in 2008 the number of fans buying tickets to big league games also dropped dramatically. But now the number of people attending major league baseball games are on the, and projected to increase, just like US economy.

At Modern Woodmen Park a number of economic indicators are also on the rise. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says they're projecting a three to five percent increase in attendance this season. The Quad Cities River Bandits don't have any projections, but they are seeing lots of positive signs - things like old advertisers who stopped buying ads, are now purchasing space again.

"Clients that we haven't done business with before or maybe that we did business with 2 - 3 - 4 seasons ago that took a couple of years off that are now coming back to us," says River Bandits General Manager Stefanie Brown.

Brown says just like their big league counterparts the Bandits have seen ticket sales follow key economic indicators. We're only five home games into the River Bandits season but Brown says sales and advertising figures are already ahead of the schedule.

"We're only 5 games in but to look ahead months and all these dates are already booked, things like that make it very promising."

Brown says nothing's guaranteed but they're optimistic about this season. Just like millions of baseball fans, particularly Cubs fans.