Most teams will wait until after a surprising breakthrough season to raise ticket prices. The Baltimore Orioles may be trying a different approach.
The Orioles, which lost 96 games last season in enduring their 13th straight losing season — for perspective, realize that the last time they finished with a winning record, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr’s consecutive games streak was still alive — announced this week they will raise the prices for most single-game tickets at Camden Yards.
The Baltimore Sun reported that all seats except those in upper left field will go up between $1 and $7. Orioles director of communications Greg Bader told the Sun the average price for a ticket purchased in advance of a non-prime game (all games against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are prime games, as is the Orioles’ home opener against the Detroit Tigers) will be $28, about $3 higher than last year.
“We believe that the average increase of $3 per ticket is not going to negatively impact someone’s decision to buy, although we do recognize no one ever wants to pay more for anything, Bader told the Sun. “We certainly understand that point.”
The Orioles will also continue to charge more for tickets purchased the day of the game, a practice they began last season. For instance, an upper reserve seat that would cost $9 in advance of a non-prime game costs $10 the day of game. A box seat bought in advance of a non-prime game for $60 goes for $65 the day of game.
The Orioles averaged just 21,396 fans per game last season, 10th-best in the American League and the lowest figure in the 19-year history of Camden Yards. That figure was considerably boosted by the gate from Opening Day against Toronto as well as 18 games against the Yankees and Red Sox, whose fans travel down to Baltimore to take advantage of tickets and seats that are not nearly so cheap or plentiful in New York and Boston. The Orioles averaged 28,863 fans for their 19 prime games and just 19,107 fans for their other 62 home dates.
Bader told the Sun the Orioles believed the decrease at the gate was due to the team’s terrible start rather than the additional charges for day of game tickets. The Orioles stumbled out to starts of 2-16 and 9-24 and never came close to escaping last place in the competitive AL East.
“The 2010 walkup figures were essentially unchanged from previous seasons,” Bader told the Sun. “The difference in attendance from 2009 to 2010 was directly attributable to the lack of advanced sales, which was directly attributable to the team performance during the first two weeks of the season.”
Orioles ticket sales should benefit from an atypical anticipation for the season. The Orioles avoided the indignity of suffering 100 losses thanks to new manager Buck Showalter, who led the Orioles to a 34-23 record after he took over August 3. That fast finish, coupled with Showalter’s track record of turning teams around, a promising core of young players and a series of low-risk free agent signings, has turned the Orioles into a popular sleeper pick to contend — or at least approach .500 — in the American League.
Orioles season ticket prices will remain the same — an average of $23, which is $4 below the Major League Baseball average. The single-game increase marks the broadest hikes the Orioles have implemented since they last raised prices on all seats in 2004. The Orioles raised prices on some seats in 2006.