Baltimore Orioles

O's to charge extra for tickets purchased on game day

If you don't plan ahead to see a game at Camden Yards this season, or you want to watch the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees play there, then expect to pay more than you did in 2009.

For the first time, the Orioles are charging a game-day ticketing fee of between $1 and $5, depending on the original price of the seat, for every home game this year -- if that ticket is purchased after 12:01 a.m. on game day.

In other words, walk up to the window to buy tickets on game day and you'll pay extra.

The new policy, which will average $2 additional per game-day-purchased ticket, is becoming more common in Major League Baseball, according to Greg Bader, the Orioles' director of communications.

Last season, 10 teams did it; the Orioles have become the 11th and several more could implement it in 2010, Bader said.

"In our mind, it accomplishes a couple of things. It rewards fans who buy in advance and make a commitment ahead of time to come to the park and it has them make the commitment to come to the park," Bader said.

In addition to the game-day fee, the Orioles have instituted another price change for 2010, increasing the cost of tickets for 19 premium games -- Opening Day and the nine home games against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox -- by about 10 percent over last year's premium-game costs.

The Yankees and Red Sox are by far the biggest draws at Camden Yards each season, often packing the ballpark with fans of the opposing teams.

"We believe the demand for these games is high enough to support this moderate increase," Bader said.

This season, for instance, it will cost $44 for a left-field lower box seat purchased in advance for a premium game compared to $40 for the same game in 2009. That seat will cost $46 if purchased on game day in 2010.

However, for a non-premium game, that seat will cost $25 this year if purchased in advance (same as 2009) and $27 if purchased on a non-premium game day.

Otherwise, the Orioles have maintained ticket prices for 2010, as the club attempts to break out of a 12-season losing streak. The Orioles have not raised single-game ticket prices since 2004 and haven't hiked the majority of season tickets since 2004. Bader said the club could not provide figures on how many tickets on average are sold on game day.

The average ticket at Camden Yards costs, "about $22 or $23. Last year, the major league baseball average was $26 to $27," Bader said. "So we will be under the Major League Baseball average again." The Orioles set a Camden Yards attendance low in 2009 with 1.91 million fans, the second consecutive year the team has drawn fewer than two million.

Bader wouldn't reveal specific season-ticket sales for 2010, but said, "The renewal rates and new sales we are getting are very much comparable to what we have seen in previous years."

The Baltimore Business Journal first reported the game-day fees and premium game hikes in Friday's editions.

Orioles sign outfielder Salazar

Looking to add to their minor league outfield depth, the Orioles have signed former Pittsburgh Pirate Jeff Salazar to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.

Salazar, 29, appeared in 21 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last year, going 1-for-23 (.046) with an RBI. With experience at all three outfield spots, Salazar is expected to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles have plenty of outfield depth at the major league level with Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Lou Montanez, Felix Pie, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott.

Salazar has appeared in 168 big league games for three different organizations, and has a career batting average of .232. He was an eighth-round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2002 after he was originally drafted by the Orioles in the 35th round in the 2000 draft but didn't sign.

He made his major league debut with the Rockies in 2006 and hit .283 (15-for-53) with a homer and eight RBIs in 19 games. He played in 38 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, and 90 more for Arizona the following season, when he batted .211 (27-for-128) with two homers and 12 RBIs.

Salazar is a career .280 hitter in parts of eight minor league seasons. He is the 10th minor league free agent that the Orioles have signed this offseason and invited to big league spring training.

The others are pitchers Chris George, Mike Hinckley, Frank Mata, Josh Perrault, Alfredo Simon and Ross Wolf; infielder Scott Moore and catchers Michel Hernandez and Chad Moeller.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.