I spent a chunk of Tuesday reading and answering comments on Twitter, Facebook and in my Connolly’s Tap Room blog about why fans aren’t coming to Camden Yards this year.
My premise heading into this week didn’t change – there are a whole lot of factors, from the ease of watching games on TV to the economic strain of pro sports to the presence of the Washington Nationals to the questions of safety in downtown Baltimore to the rollercoaster nature of this club to a need for better marketing of the on-field product.
And that just scratches the surface.
But there was something that came up repeatedly with fans – a perceived slap in the face and a reason that several said they’ve avoided coming to Camden Yards in the past few years – that simply is no longer true.
The dreaded walk-up ticket fee.
Instituted before the 2010 season, the Orioles charged an extra $1 to $5 – depending on original price – if those tickets were purchased after 12:01 a.m. on the day of the game.
Basically, the deal was if you were going to decide in the afternoon that you wanted to catch an Orioles’ game that night and you walked up to the box office to get a ticket, you would pay an average of $2 more for your seat that night.
I remember writing a story about the change in January 2010, and people were outraged. Some vowed never again attend a game again until the policy was changed.
And, this month, when I’ve written about the Orioles’ attendance woes – they had just 15,532 at Camden Yards on Monday for a key game against the division rival Toronto Blue Jays – I’ve had some people point to that policy as a deterrent for coming to Camden Yards.
But here’s the rub: That’s no longer a ticket policy (it was a bad idea from the start, in my opinion).
Apparently, when the organization switched to dynamic pricing – different tiers – before the 2014 season, the walk-up fee went away.
Apparently, I didn’t get the memo. And many of you didn’t. And several people I quickly quizzed Tuesday afternoon didn’t know that the policy was vacated, either. It wasn’t formally announced at the time. And time went by.
This doesn’t qualify as news – a changed policy three-plus years ago. But, frankly, there’s a lot of you that didn’t know, including some who made a point of complaining about it today.
So there you go. One fewer reason to explain why people aren’t frequenting the Yards in 2016.