The Orioles fulfilled an 11-month-old promise yesterday when they announced a ticket-exchange system that should be a boon to fans who come to the ballpark hoping to dispose of extra seats to upcoming games.
Starting Monday, those fans can go to a designated reselling zone at Camden Yards. Within the zone -- but on no other public street within a mile of Camden Yards -- they legally can resell their tickets for the price printed on them.
Ticket scalping, reselling for more than a ticket's face value, is illegal in Baltimore. The new policy doesn't change that.
Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss said the new policy is aimed at assisting fans eager to unload their extra tickets -- at a fair price.
"Clearly, we want to accommodate the genuine needs of the fan who, at the last minute, has an unforeseen situation and has tickets to sell," said Foss, who was one of the officials involved in drawing up the policy.
"It's good public relations for the Orioles and the police department," said Lt. Russell Shea Jr., who directs the city police detail at the ballpark. "If fans get stuck with tickets, they'll be able to get their money back, recoup something, and everybody will be happy."
The new policy gives fans an option taken away last summer, when Baltimore City Council put tighter controls of ticket reselling. Until then, it had been legal to resell tickets -- as long as the asking price didn't exceed face value.
Prompted by Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who strongly backed tougher laws, council members voted to extend the prohibition to include reselling Orioles tickets at any price.
Several council members balked at the measure, saying it hurt baseball fans who simply wanted to get back what they paid for their tickets. But club officials soon won them over, pledging to set up their own exchange program.
In a June 16 letter to City Council, the Orioles wrote that details of their plan would be announced shortly.
Orioles officials said several obstacles kept them from finalizing their plan last summer, including the eight-month players strike. The strike ended the season in mid-August, a few days after the new laws took effect.
"The players strike definitely was a complicating factor," Foss said.
Under the just-announced plan, a reselling zone will be located next to Gate E near the home-plate entrance to Camden Yards. " Fans can begin their selling and buying two hours before the scheduled game.
Orioles officials and city police will monitor activity in the zone, looking out for ticket scalping.
Foss said he couldn't guess how many fans would be drawn to the ticket area. But he added: "Clearly, there are some very vocal fans out there interested in having this policy put in place. We know because we've heard from a lot of them."
I= Approximate tickets remaining for the Orioles' homestand:
Date .. ..Opponent .. ..Tickets left
Today .. ..Oakland .. .. .. ...4,500
Tomorrow ..Oakland .. .. .. ..11,400
Monday .. .Seattle .. .. .. ..11,100
Tuesday ...Seattle .. .. .. ..13,400
Wed. .. ...Seattle .. .. .. ..10,400
Thursday ..Seattle .. .. .. ...7,400
June 9 .. .California .. .. ...8,500
June 10 ...California .. .. ...5,400
June 11 ...California .. .. ...5,900