The Baltimore Orioles‘ surge into playoff contention for the first time in 15 years hasn’t completely won over baseball fans in the mid-Atlantic area. So the Orioles will turn the clock back even further in hopes of filling up Camden Yards for a pivotal series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles announced this week that all left field lower box seats will cost $8 and all bleacher seats will cost $4 — the same price those seats cost in 1992, the year Camden Yards opened — for the three-game set against the Rays Tuesday, September 11 through Thursday, September 13. The Orioles are dubbing the promotion “BUCKle Up and Back your Birds,” a homage to manager Buck Showalter.
Left field lower box seats comprise sections 66-86 at Camden Yards and typically cost between $25 and $52 per ticket. The bleacher seats cost between $17 and $32 per ticket.
But the Orioles are clearly willing to take a short-term hit in order to create a playoff atmosphere after they played to tens of thousands of empty seats during their most recent home series against the White Sox — who, like the Rays, are in the thick of the American League playoff race.
The Orioles (76-60) began play today, Thursday. September 6, tied for the AL wild card lead with the Oakland Athletics and just one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. The Rays (75-62) are 1.5 games behind the Orioles and Athletics.
Despite their surge into contention, the Orioles drew just 47,035 fans for the four-game series against the White Sox from Monday, August 27 through Thursday August 30. That’s barely more than Camden Yards’ single-game capacity of 45,971 — which itself is down from the capacity of 48,876 Camden housed from its opening in 1992 through 2010.
The Orioles’ run of futility — they have endured 14 straight losing seasons, the second-longest streak in Major League Baseball — contributed to the reduction in seating as well as the reluctance to climb aboard the bandwagon this year.
The struggles of the Orioles since the late ’90s also created an awkward scenario in which the biggest crowds at Camden Yards show up to support visiting teams — namely the Red Sox and Yankees. With the Red Sox in the midst of an MLB-record sellout streak and the Yankees regularly ranking among the top two in the American League in attendance, it has been both easier and less expensive for fans of those teams to travel down I-95 and see them play the Orioles.
Last year, the Orioles welcomed 421,364 fans to their 16 games against the Red Sox or Yankees, an average of 26,336 per game. The Orioles drew just 1,334,097 fans to their other 65 home games, an average of 20,525 fans per contest.
Appropriately enough, the Orioles open a seven-game homestand tonight against the Yankees, and they won’t need to offer discounted tickets to lure fans inside the gates. The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday, September 4 that the Orioles could draw more than 150,000 fans this weekend and that the Thursday and Saturday games were already close to sold out.