This is a tough situation; on one hand you’d really love to have the ballpark packed with O’s fans. However on the other hand, all of those out-of-towners are also buying tickets and putting money into the team coffers. Not only that, but they also buy concessions at the ballpark, pay for parking, etc. That said, our neighbors to the south, the Washington Nationals, have come up with a way that they feel they can combat this phenomenon when the Phillies come to town: deny their fans tickets.
It’s an interesting concept. What this particular situation amounts to is that the Nationals are having a pre-sale of tickets for their early May weekend series against Philadelphia. If you call up or try to buy over the internet with a zip code out of PA, NJ, or anywhere in the greater-Philadelphia area, you won’t be allowed to buy tickets for another month. I could even take this a step further; I’d like to see the Orioles adopt a similar policy for the Red Sox and Yankees, however why limit it to a pre-sale? The rule should be that you can’t purchase tickets to those series except by buying a season ticket package, or physically coming down to the warehouse box office and getting them in person. 24 hours prior to first pitch, the tickets would be released online, over the phone, etc. to the general public. It would make for long lines on gameday at the box office, however it would prevent NY and Boston brokers from buying tickets en masse and selling them as part of a bus trip.
In my scenario certainly there would still be some out-of-town fans that would get through. Some members of those fan bases live in this region, so they’d have as much of a chance as anyone else at coming. As with all stories however, there are two sides in a sense. Is this even legal? PA Senator Bob Casey obviously doesn’t think so. He’s called on the Nationals to reverse this decision and to in essence allow the Philly fans to purchase tickets. He claims that Philadelphia fans are “the best in the world,” and that “they shouldn’t be left out in the cold.” Whether or not that’s truly the case is beside the point; I find it a bit troubling that an elected official is taking something of this nature to this degree. Wouldn’t he better serve the folks that sent him to the United States Senate by focusing his attention on the national debt, health care, taxes, etc?
Incidentally, there is a precendent for this in a sense. The Washington Capitals of the NHL have adopted similar policies for selling tickets to (mostly playoff) games against both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. However it was a bit different in that it wasn’t a pre-sale; they flat out wouldn’t sell to people with Pittsburgh or Philadelphia-area zip codes no matter when they bought tickets. Is this discrimination? Survey says: you bet! However doesn’t this kind of thing ensure a certain home-field/court/ice advantage? For those who say that the team’s shooting itself in the foot by doing this because they’re preventing people from spending money for tickets, I would also submit that the hometown fans would show up if they saw that the team was stepping up to the plate on their behalf. The worry of course is that something along these lines further galvanizes the intruders and they either find ways around it or they still buy their seats en masse when they go on sale to everyone.
The fact is that many Oriole fans have been turned off to games against the Birds’ arch-rivals for this reason. I’ve spoken with many people who go to quite a few games a year except for games against Boston and NY. My point of course is that if you’re choosing to stay home because of the opposing fans, those are just x-number of tickets more which are available to the intruders to purchase. However I would also agree that the Orioles could take a page out of Washington’s book and do something to “protect” their fan base from having to make the decision between spending a few hours with opposing fans in their home park, and not supporting the team.