The subject of attendance or a lack there of at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2016 has been a hot topic all season. Many have complained about the lack of fannies in the seats at OPACY; the national media has also analyzed the issue and issued it’s criticism of the Baltimore fans for not supporting the team. To date the Orioles have drawn slightly over 1.87 million fans to OPACY and are 20th in League attendance with an average of 26,723 fans/game.
Many theories and explanations for these numbers have been put out there. The local print media has covered the issue and several of the Baltimore sports bloggers have also addressed the matter. Social media has seen some spirited debates about the reasons for the lack of fans at OPACY and has also seen fans in general called out for not being true fans. I feel that the attendance issue is a complex one and has no one reason or easy solution; it is not my intention to rehash what has been said about the matter. A simple internet search should lead one to many pieces on the subject. I want to offer some thoughts about what could be done to attract fans and enhance attendance here.
Full disclosure: I am not a season ticket holder; I am a fan who attends on average 10 games a season as my schedule allows. Based on my Ballpark app, I will have attended 12 games this season (for what that is all worth).
It is obvious to me that the days of “if you build it they will come” are over. The fans need to be engaged by the team and drawn to the ballpark. I can honestly say that I have never received a call, e-mail or mailing inquiring as to my interest in a partial season ticket plan. The Orioles need to use the information that they have at hand to contact fans. Anyone who has purchased tickets on-line has had to create an account with the Orioles; the Orioles have this database of e-mail addresses, why don’t they send something to those fans that says “Mr Smith, we see you have purchased tickets to x amount of games, have you thought about upgrading to a 13 game, 29 game or full season plan?”. The Orioles should also have the list of fans who bought tickets using the All Star Game voting offer and those who took advantage of the Pizza Boli’s free ticket offer; contact those fans. There also is the Orioles #OsBirdsNest members who are engaged with the team via social media who could be contacted. The team should use these resources in my opinion to draw fans to the ballpark.
I also am of the opinion that revamping the 13 game plans would help bolster attendance. I seem to recall that the Washington Capitals had a pick your games plan a few years ago (if I’m wrong about this I am sure a Capital fan will enlighten me). The Orioles already have dynamic pricing in effect so this should be easy to do; purchasing this plan will allow you to choose a set amount of games from each level of pricing. In exchange for being able to pick the teams and days you want to attend the Orioles could stipulate that there is no exchanging of tickets as is allowed now among season tickets plans; you have the freedom of choice up front so those are the games you attend.
Another option I would propose is a bobblehead/garden gnome package. My son tells me he thought the Dodgers had such a plan when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton so I am borrowing their idea. Under this 13 game plan you would be guaranteed the bobblehead/garden gnome nights as part of your package and the remaining 10 or 11 games of your plan would be the Orioles’ choice and again there would be no exchange of tickets. Since these giveaway games are the most popular they would seem to me to be an easy way to sell tickets and bolster attendance.
I’ll admit that I do not have a degree in Marketing and that there are certainly people in the Warehouse who do; I’m no expert by any means but these seem like easy solutions to the current attendance issue. I would love to hear other fans’ thoughts.