Orioles to increase ticket prices for 2016 season

The Orioles have raised ticket prices for only the third time in 12 seasons.

It will cost fans more to watch the Orioles play at Camden Yards this upcoming season.

The Orioles will raise ticket prices for 2016 on both season-ticket plans and single-game sales, according to a club official.

Season-ticket holders will see an average price increase of $5 per game with the increase ranging from $3 to $10 per ticket based on the plan and selected games, according to a club official.

Single-game tickets will go up an average of $4 to $5 per ticket. The increase ranges from $3 to $7 per ticket. The date for when single-game tickets will go on sale has yet to be announced.

This will be just the third time in 12 years that the Orioles have increased ticket prices.

Season-ticket holders were sent emails on Tuesday notifying them of the increase in a letter from executive vice president Dan Duquette.

In the letter, Duquette detailed the team’s goal of fielding a contender every season, and points out that the Orioles made long-term commitments to retain first baseman Chris Davis and setup man Darren O’Day.

"In all pricing decisions, our organization strives to provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment for as many fans as possible while assembling a highly competitive team that our fans can be proud to support each and every night," Duquette wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Sun.

“Over the past four seasons, the Orioles have won more games than any team in the American League,” Duquette also wrote in the letter. “That progress is anchored by a powerful lineup, a dynamic rotation, a strong bullpen, crisp defense and a commitment to The Oriole Way at every level of our organization. While we finished short of our expectations last season, we have worked hard this winter to improve our club in 2016 and ultimately to bring a World Series championship to Baltimore.”

Season-ticket plans will still save fans 15 percent over single-game prices. For plan holders, field box seats start at $46 per game and will average $57 a seat. Season-ticket plans can be purchased into April.

Despite the hike, the Orioles will still offer an average of 12,000 tickets costing $20 or less, a number that reaches up to 18,000 seats -- about 40 percent of the park -- on some nights. 

Last season, the average ticket to an Orioles home game cost $24.97 -- according to data by Team Marketing Report -- which ranked 11th-least expensive among Major League Baseball's 30 clubs. An average ticket price of $30 per ticket, the approximate cost of the Orioles' 2016 tickets, would've ranked 11th-most expensive in baseball in 2015. 

After an offseason that included re-signing Davis to a seven-year, $161 million deal and retaining O'Day with a four-year, $31 million deal, the Orioles' payroll for 2016 is already beyond the $130 million mark, a new franchise record.

The Orioles have committed to spending nearly $215 million through free agency this offseason, fifth most in baseball behind big-money clubs like the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox.

Season-ticket holder Bill Smith, 46, said that he might not have renewed his season tickets had the Orioles increased prices last year after not retaining Nelson Cruz or Nick Markakis. But he said after seeing the club spend to keep Davis and O’Day, he’s fine with the increase.

“I’m more than happy to spend a little extra if they’re going to spend a little extra,” said Smith, a Pasadena resident who will have four seats in the left-field porch for the sixth straight year. “I’d rather see the O’s be aggressive and see an increase than not. I think most fans expected it. We went into this offseason not expecting to bring back Davis or O’Day or [Matt] Wieters, and we were able to keep all three of them.”

Alex Gaines of Sykesville said while he was disappointed by the price increase, he feels the cost of going to a game at Camden Yards is still more affordable than other places he has been, like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

“I think Baltimore’s been spoiled by the Orioles for a long time,” said Gaines, 25. “I’m not happy about it going up, but I understand. I know they don’t get a lion’s share of their revenue from tickets, but it’s still revenue. And being in the same division as the two biggest-spending teams in baseball probably doesn’t help. … I’ve tried to understand it. I’m not happy about it, but it’s still more affordable to go to a baseball game than it is to go to a football game.”

Gaines, a second-year season-ticket holder, said he would have liked the team do more than focus on retaining existing players this offseason.

“My gripe with them is they retained all of their own players besides their best starting pitcher [Wei-Yin Chen] from a team that went 81-81," he said. "If you’re going to raise prices, have more than what you had last year.”

Given the money the Orioles spent in the offseason, fans weren’t surprised by the price hike.

“I was kind of expecting it,” said Jeff Stower, 44, of Edgemere. “They spent a lot of money in the offseason. As long as they put the money on making the team better, I’m good with the ticket-price raise. … I still think they should go out and get a pitcher, but they did a lot better than everybody thought they would. They kept Davis, Wieters and O’Day, so that’s pretty darn good."

Stower, a sixth-year season-ticket holder, actually upgraded his plan Friday from a 13-game plan to a 29-game plan.

“They’re priced pretty low compared to other teams,” he said. “I think it’s pretty fair.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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