Recently, The Baltimore Sun reported on the low attendance at Oriole Park this year. The Orioles’ management bears responsibility for the decrease in the fan base, and it is not all just a matter of wins and losses. Of course, winning would help attendance, but management is making the experience less and less fan friendly (”After a year of empty stands, the Orioles are welcoming crowds again. So far, fans aren’t flocking back,” June 8).
Here are some ideas to improve attendance:
Let folks buy food from street vendors and bring it into the stadium, as had been customary until this year. It may seem like a little thing, but when a family spends a fortune on tickets, it makes sense to save a few bucks on snacks or water, especially if there are four mouths to feed. The food and water are so overpriced inside the park that fans look for alternatives. The message to fans is that management wants to squeeze every nickel out of the fans who do attend.
Allow fans to park on the lot before games, as had been customary until this year. It helps all the local businesses, the fans, and, not surprisingly, it helps the Orioles sell more tickets. It costs nothing, yet it is a value added to the ticket purchase. Once a perk for patrons is now another obvious message to fans: Don’t come early and support local businesses.
Hire back Gary Thorne, so the team has a major league announcer, as had been customary until this year. Nothing upsets fans more then having a beloved announcer let go for no apparent reason. This is not the first time O’s management has blundered with announcers. Jon Miller then, now Gary Thorne. We have a major league team with minor league announcers. Fans care about who calls the games, management seemingly does not.
Allow people to stream Oriole games without purchasing Comcast. Millions of fans have cut the cord, especially the fans who grow the base: young fans. Management continues to ignore them. A la carte streaming is the new model that the Orioles/MASN refuses to embrace. It is past time to accept the inevitable. Build the fan base by streaming the O’s games without the financial burden of Comcast.
The team is spending very little at the major league level compared to other teams in Major League Baseball. After spending $140 million on payroll five years ago, the Orioles payroll this year is down to $57 million, a savings of $83 million per year from their peak years. The O’s rank 28th out of 30 MLB teams in payroll. That “elite talent pipeline” only costs a small fraction of $83 million in yearly savings. Fans know this. Spend more on the major league payroll.
Although the troubles on the field are reflected in a payroll that is 60% less than five years ago, the price of tickets has not dropped by 60%. An inferior team at superior prices. Fans are not sheep. If management wants more fans, discount tickets drastically to reflect the product on the field. As the team spends less, the fans follow suit.
Fans will support a losing team as long as they feel respected and appreciated. Presently, they are not feeling either. Management has created an unfriendly environment that is literally turning people away.
Dudley Thompson, Girdletree
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