Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ticket Sales Are Up & So Are the Prices

When the Yankees are in town, ticket sales always go through the roof. That's the way it is every time they or the Red Sox are in town. The problem is, most of the increase in ticket sales is due to the migration of Yankee and Red Sox fans to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. From their point of view, it's a great thing. Getting tickets to Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium can be difficult and pricey. Why not just make the drive down to Baltimore and buy a much cheaper seat in a half empty stadium? An added bonus is being able to turn an away game for your team into a home game. That's got to be pretty cool.

As an Oriole fan, it's not very cool. It's downright frustrating. On a sports radio talk show, I heard someone call-out Orioles fans to make a point of going to these games - to reclaim our home park from the Yankee fans. That's an honorable idea. It's a matter of principle, and I'm as likely to get caught up on the principle-of-a-thing as anyone. However, before I endorse this movement to reclaim Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I need to see it start from somewhere higher up - the Orioles' front office.

Right now, owner Peter Angelos and the Orioles' front office don't seem very concerned with who fills their seats. As the owner of a professional sports team with game attendance on the decline, Peter Angelos should be concerned with generating and keeping a faithful fanbase. There are many things that contribute to this mission, but varying ticket prices depending on the visiting team is not one of them, and that is exactly what is happening.

If you look at the Orioles schedule you'll see that every home game against either the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees is designated as a Prime Game. Ticket prices for a Prime Game are higher than other games; up to 50% higher depending on the seat. This is entirely the wrong message for Angelos to be sending Baltimore. It says that he acknowledges the visiting Yankees and Red Sox as a bigger draw than the hometown Orioles and wants to make some extra cash for those games. It says that he's more concerned with making money than developing a fanbase or even winning. As a local, you can go to any game you want, so why would you go to a Prime Game where the prices are higher? Most people would rather save the money, so that opens up more seats for the migratory Yankee/Red Sox fans. When the cheers for the visiting team equal or overpower the home team, it's not much of a home game, is it? Therefore the home team advantage is minimalized.

The Orioles aren't the only ones that do this. Both the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays raise ticket prices when New York and Boston are in town. Many fans moan about the media bias towards the Yankees and Red Sox. The hike in ticket prices only affirms that the AL East belongs to New York and Boston. It's their world, we're just living in it.

If Peter Angelos and the other AL East owners want the fans to get excited about their teams, they need to convince them that the home team is worth getting excited about. Acknowledging the visiting team as the bigger draw is like saying that the home team isn't good enough. Whether that's true or not, you don't say that to your fans.


emilyshort&justingischel said...

Phew, I officially just read all of your blogs in one sitting. =D I feel much smarter! You're a great writer ry. Sorry this comment isn't at all related to baseball. =)

Ryan Hall said...

Hey, it's still blog related. You read ALL of them?! Thanks for the kind words. Maybe I'll make a baseball fan of you yet :)

Pops said...

You are exactly right about the higher "prime game" prices. I initially had thought, "Way to go, Peter, sock it to those Yankee and Red Sox fans". But now I see your point that the higher prices send exactly the wrong message to the Baltimore fans, especially those who remain loyal and would like to help take back our home field advantage. If only there were a way to offer an O's fan discount. Do we have a secret handshake?