Baltimore Orioles: Are the Birds and their fans being unfairly called out?
Last week the Baltimore Orioles and their fans were raked over the coals for the attendance figures turned in during the Toronto series. Camden Yards seemed to sell between 15-16 thousand tickets for each game. And yes, there were some Toronto fans sprinkled into that mix.
The national media doesn’t seem to hesitate to pile on the Orioles when it comes to this. Or perhaps not so much the Orioles as Orioles fans. And perhaps some of the criticism is fair. I hear a lot of people complain about the price of tickets, food, and parking. The fact is that you can get into a game for $15, bring your own food, and take the Light Rail to Camden Yards for between $3-$4. People also complain about the lack of giveaways and marketing. The Orioles do lots of giveaways each year, they have billboards up all over the area, and they have perpetual TV and radio ads.
What people are really saying is that they want to be able to park, get into the game, and eat for Memorial Stadium prices (circa 1970’s at that). Furthermore they’re also saying that they expect a primo seat for those $15 as opposed to sitting up top. I’m sorry folks, that’s just not possible any longer. Baseball’s a business, and prices do change. However the fact is that the Orioles remain one of the best deals in professional sports. While most people are going to criticize Peter Angelos for one thing or another, he’s always been committed to keeping Orioles games affordable for families. If you don’t want to buy a $10 burger, you can bring your own food and drink.
When this was being brought up last week, many folks used the excuse of school starting around Maryland as to why they couldn’t come to the ballpark. And I’m sorry, but that’s a legitimate excuse. No if’s and’s or but’s about it. Now with that said, I noticed something else this past week that was equally as interesting.
Two very specific and big MLB markets saw a down-tick in attendance. On Tuesday night the Washington Nationals only drew 17K plus, and the NY Yankees only drew 27K plus. I can’t speak for NY, but I know that schools in Northern Virginia opened on Tuesday. Again, that’s most definitely a legitimate excuse for not going out to the ballpark. That’s not under and sort of dispute – I’m not sure I’d want to take my kids to a game during the first week of school either.
However I didn’t hear the same type of outcry about fans in Washington or New York as I heard about those in Baltimore the week prior. New York of course is fighting to get into the post season, and Washington is all but earmarked for it. Based on the reaction towards Orioles fans the week prior, one would think that the same would have been true for those two fan bases. Yet, it’s wasn’t.
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Nobody said nary a word about those team’s attendances. Apparently it’s only unacceptable for Baltimore-area families to use the excuse of school starting among other things. Now with that said, both Washington and New York fans can probably use the argument of games being expensive more so than can Orioles fans. Neither park is a cheap endeavor in terms of going to a game.
But still, I can’t buy that specifically as an excuse in the Orioles’ case. If you go to a game during the week you can often get tickets for below face value on sites like Stub Hub. But are you really telling me that you can’t afford $15 to get into a game where you can bring your own food, plus $3+ for the Light Rail (that drops you right in front of the ballpark)? Or are you saying that you think that $15 should get you a better seat than it does? Or are you just not willing to sit up top in left field for only $15?
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Yes, there are some mixed messages in this column. And regardless of anything else, I’m in no position to tell people how to spend their money Some of those criticisms are legitimate of Orioles fans. But the fact remains that legitimate or not, I only recalled hearing that Orioles fans don’t want to attend games – NOT fans in Washington or New York. So either some folks in the media took this week off and couldn’t comment, or there’s some sort of anti-Oriole bias out there. You be the judge.