In the final segment of this week’s pod, Josh asked Jason what he thought about the disappointing attendance at Camden Yards this year. It’s a complex topic, and one that honestly could be the focus of an entire episode. One listener, Chris Malarkey, sent us an email with his take on the situation.
“Jason / Josh – Great podcast the other day! Really enjoyed it and especially when you started to dive into the lack of fans at Orioles games. I too believe this can be it’s own episode because there are a lot of factors in play.
I have ranked some factors from least significant to most (apologize if I am not the world’s best writer but I am trying to do this at work without my boss catching me:
1) Nats – Not to be totally dismissed however I still feel that on any given night the Nats can account for 3-4k fans not being present. Yes the Orioles have plenty of fans in central Maryland, southern PA, Southern Delaware and the Eastern shore but a lot of the fans south of Howard County flipped to the Nats because of their dissatisfaction with the Angelos family. I currently live in AA county and have noticed a increasing number of Nats fans. Which leads me to my second factor…
2) Hatred of Angelos family – While this has decreased over the past few years there are still fans I grew up with in Maryland that still haven’t come around to this team after 14 straight losing seasons. I understand for some that is hard to forget. I have certainly moved on and continue to purchase my season tickets and go to games but people have a hard time giving Angelos money. I believe this could account for another 3-4k fans not being present on any given night.
3) Orioles lack of marketing – The ripken days are over and most fans want to say they won’t come back to the stadium because ripken is no longer here but I would argue the orioles currently have more stars than they did in the 90’s and more transcendent, homegrown players with a bigger path to stardom than Cal. Manny Machado is going to be a once in a lifetime player and is already a better player than Cal or Brooks ever was. If I am the Orioles I build billboards all over Maryland with Manny’s face. I put his face on milk, eggs, buildings, street signs, strip clubs, etc…I would put Manny in a limo and take him to the suburbs of Howard, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford counties and get him in the community. Lastly, I would try to find a better way to brand Manny in the city. He has a great opportunity to become a hero to many inner city kids much like Adam Jones. But kids need to see and touch Manny so they know who he is and why he is one of the best athletes on the planet. You should be able to go to any Baltimore / Washington metro area in the state and poll 100 people if they know who Manny is and 98 should say yes. I don’t think that’s the case. If fans really understood how great and transcendent Manny Machado is the stands would be filling up. Fans need to appreciate him.
4) Last but certainly the most important factor is the City of Baltimore. Nobody wants to say it but the past few years haven’t been good for Baltimore. I assume the Orioles rely heavily on getting $ from the affluent Baltimore / Washington suburbs but I would ask the question if families even feel comfortable driving into the city, parking, or taking the metro to see a game. The answer is probably NO. I continue to take my wife into Baltimore and with my young, infant son to see games and visit other attractions but we have already faced some unique situations where we have second guessed our decision to visit the city. The Orioles have to honestly ask themselves this question and whether or not they can attract as many fans as they did from the suburbs in the 1990’s. If the answer is yes then they have to find more ways besides ticket or food discounts. They need to work with the city and find ways to market Baltimore better to young families in the area. Maybe they believe this is simply not as attainable. That may be okay but then they need a plan to market to the city more and young millennials and inner city youths where football and basketball are probably more popular. As millennials leave college and begin having families, I would argue “seeing a baseball game” is not a high priority and for several reasons. Millennials may be more interested in the arts or a trendy new restaurant. They may also leverage technology more to stream games online or through other means. Entertainment at home is also better and may account for their reason to stay home as well. All of this means the Orioles need to adapt to their future fan base. It may not be the same fanbase from decades ago, it may be evolving. Sometimes change is a good thing and the Orioles can adapt with the times and find new ways to remain competitive in attendance. I don’t have all the answers but the first thing the Orioles need to do is admit there is a problem and come to terms with it. Then they can begin to define a strategy and path towards getting more fans in the stadium.”
We want to thank Chris for giving us his thoughts and allowing us to post them. What do you think? Let us know on Twitter (@bmoreopinionate) or through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).