• Apr

    An idea to bring back the fans


    Just mull that over a little bit. Less than 10,000 people choose to go down to Camden Yards on a warm spring evening to watch the birds take on the Rays. Yes, I know the kids are still in school and the Orioles were coming into the game at 1-5, but it’s still an unsightly number.

    After setting a record with 48,891 on opening day, the Orioles have averaged 17,592 fans. Normally teams can point to poor weather in April as part of the problem, but the weather has been perfect for baseball since the O’s arrived from Florida.

    There is always a drop from opening day to the first night opener, but the 21,148 that showed up on the home night opener was pretty poor, especially when you consider it was clear Saturday night and a very comfortable 63 degrees .

    Obviously the 12 straight years of losing has got the Orioles fan base down, especially the common fan that might not be the regular message board poster or sport radio listener. I’ve talked with a lot of fans over the last few days and there seems to be an incredible amount of apathy towards the club. The Orioles 1-6 start has certainly not helped.

    Saying that, I think it’s time for the Orioles to really dig deep to get these fans back.

    Obviously the first thing can do is start to win. The Orioles starting pitching has been very solid so far and that’s a great sign for the rest of the season. Yes, the bullpen has been shaky and Lord know the hitting, especially clutch hitting has been non-existent, but this club will hit better and it will start to win some games.

    It’s also time for the Orioles to relook some of their offseason decisions with ticket pricing and charges.

    Let’s start with the extra charges for buying a ticket on game day. The Orioles were in no position to start charging premiums for anything other than Red Sox and Yankees games. The walk up charge is not very smart if you ask me.

    If I'm the Orioles, I'd try to do something like the Florida Marlins did a few years back and create a cheap seat area. Take the top third of the upper deck in left field and down the right field line, and make it a $5 ticket (Marlins are actually $9/$12 now but use to be $3) if bought on game day. I'm still a big believer that low prices on tickets encourage fans to attend and also encourage them to spend more on concessions.

    A $5 ticket for seats that are normally not sold is a great way to get the grass roots younger crowd involved in going to the games. It also might encourage families on a budget to come to the park more often. I still clearly remember my father taking me to many, many $3 buck night at Memorial Stadium back in the day and those trips are part of what cemented me as an Orioles fan.

    By charging even more for a game day ticket will have the exact opposite effect on the young crowd and families on a budget. I understand why the Orioles would like to encourage sales prior to day of the game, but I don’t believe adding the cheap game-day tickets will take away from those who want better seats or don’t want to deal with the hassles of waiting in line for tickets on game day.

    The Orioles current policy does not encourage walk up sales and may actually discourage young fans and families on a budget from making those last second decision to go watch a game.

    With people busier ever than ever, more and more people are not planning out events as much as they use to. Sure, you still have some core fans who will buy the various ticket plans offered by the club, but a lot of them are more about opportunity.

    If I’m the Orioles, I’m encouraging fans to make those last second decisions to come to the park that night, not penalizing them for not buying tickets previously.

    The Orioles have done a lot of things to improve the in-game experience for the fans from the video upgrades to the between inning content on those screens. Personally, I have a good time with my family every time I go to the park, win or lose, but I also realize that a lot of people I know do not consider the Orioles for their entertainment dollar any longer or at least rarely do.

    Oh, and one more thing, selling beer for $7.25 is starting to get a little bit pricey. How about a cheaper option? Natty Bohs were $2 at The Nest during our Hangout Night and they went down pretty good. Even a $5 Natty Boh option might be an alternative that some people would find appealing.

    I realize the biggest thing the Orioles can do to improve attendance is win, but providing the fans with a budget game-day option just might be the way to improve the attendance while helping cement that next generation of fans.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.