The Orioles are dropping FanFest in advance of the 2020 season, and are looking into other ways of connecting with fans off the field, team sources said.
An Orioles official said on background that the team was looking at new ways for players, former Orioles and the team’s front office to interact with fans off the field, with the goal of creating a more personalized experience.
A wintertime tradition first held in 1989, FanFest has offered fans the chance to hear from players and maybe get a few autographs, purchase tickets for the upcoming season, acquire team merchandise and other memorabilia and just generally immerse themselves in all things Orioles for one day during the off-season. This year’s FanFest, held in January, attracted some 8,000 people, the team reported.
The probability that FanFest would be canceled was first reported by Roch Kubatko on masnsports.com. Clearly, the Orioles, in the midst of an extensive team rebuild after a disastrous 2018 season and focused on finding new ways of running the team and attracting fans, believe they can do better than FanFest. Although no specifics have been offered, a team official said there could be one or more alternative events scheduled during the off-season.
All facets of the organization are being re-evaluated, the team source said, adding that one of the goals is to come up with initiatives and events that reach as many fans as possible.
Attendance at FanFest swelled while the Orioles were in contention during the Dan Duquette/Buck Showalter era; from 2013-2017, the team reported four FanFests with attendance of 15,000 or more. But attendance dipped dramatically in 2019, after many of the team’s marquee names — Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zack Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Darren O’Day — were traded or signed with other teams.