A sad truth needs to be stated: Baltimore is not a good baseball town. Attendance, for lack of a better word, sucks. Now get out your pitchforks, and rant and rave about school nights, prices, weather, or whatever excuse you drew from a hat this morning, but that doesn’t change the fact that only 16,083 people attended the August 30th game against the Blue Jays, in the middle of a tight divisional race. The Orioles are 20th in average attendance this season. The winningest team in baseball since 2012 (427-353) has only finished better than 18th in average attendance once in that span (2014). There is an issue fundamentally wrong with the culture of baseball around Baltimore.
Excuse number one for attendance: Peter Angelos is cheap and people are boycotting. The Orioles have been in the top half of the league in terms of payroll since the magical 2012 season. Not to mention in top five from 1998 to 2000, which were all losing seasons. Angelos is willing to spend money to compliment a team with potential, but has realized trying to outspend the Yankees by buying a team from the ground up does not win you championships.
Excuse number two: It’s a school night. Legitimate issue to those who schooling effects, to a point. Babysitters do exist, kids are allowed to go to school tired the next morning, and college students know the definition of a late night by heart. Even factoring in school nights, a majority of the season is played in the summer and average attendance shouldn’t be taking a hit.
Excuse number three: Bad weather (hot or cold). See excuse number two.
Excuse number four: The Ravens take fans away during football season. An NFL team plays 16 games a season, 8 home games. This creates scarcity in tickets and when you tell someone they can’t go to something; it only makes them want to go even more. So yes, I would agree with you…on Sundays. There are six other days in the weeks with normally 2-3 opportunities to catch an O’s game in late August/September.
Excuse number five: Ticket prices are too high. The Orioles have only raised ticket prices three times in the past 12 years. Before the raise at the beginning of the 2016 season, they had the 11th most affordable tickets in baseball. And they even got rid of the walkup ticket fee when they added dynamic pricing.
Congratulations kids, you have yourself a bad baseball town. Now, is this purposeful neglect? Not at all. The NFL has concocted a perfect formula to get sports media talking about them 24/7 and 365 days a year. Local sports radio with talk football on Opening Day. And nothing will stop that short of burning the money-mache cow that is the NFL.
Also, look at it like this. The poverty rate in Baltimore is about 24 percent. There is a number of people that just cannot afford to regularly go to a baseball game. What about the surrounding areas? The people who can afford to go to games live about 15 to 30 minutes outside of Baltimore. Baltimore, a place where poor parking creates scheduling conflicts between two multi-million dollar sports franchises. Pair that with a subpar public transit system and the shiny allure of MASN, and it suddenly becomes a lot easier to stay home and watch baseball while getting as intoxicated as you want. It’s also a lot easier to check the standings in late August/early September and decide whether or not you actually want to invest time into the team this season.
People are lazy, who would have thought?