A myriad of factors driving low attendance at Camden Yards but here are the most important ones.
Baltimore Orioles fans aren’t flocking to the yard despite a 1st place record and a core group of players. Why is that? We take a good look at the three main factors pressing this ongoing issue.
Last year, the Baltimore Orioles finished a surprising 83-79, yet only drew an average of 16,893 fans for 81 games. However, Orioles are now averaging 22,382 fans (a 24.5% increase) but fans still haven’t been flocking to the yard. The O’s are in first place and playing very exciting baseball but the city is a wreck, people don’t have the money, and there’s still increasing uncertainty about the Camden Yards lease.
Let’s take a look at these factors.
Inflation scaring away fans
First, continuing heavy inflation has eaten away at people’s wallets and most Americans cannot afford to go to a game. While overall attendance across the MLB has gone up a rather modest 9%, it’s still fledgling due to fans not having the money to go see a game. It is starting to become more of a luxury to go to a game than it used to be. Ticket prices have soared across the board over the last 10 seasons (not counting the pandemic shortened 2020 season) according to the Wall Street Journal. Los Angeles Dodgers hold the highest ticket prices at $209 average with the Miami Marlins bringing up the rear at $69 average per ticket. MLB’s fan base has always mostly of a working-class background with an average salary around $39,100/per fan in today’s money according to The Economist. Tickets are the lowest priced because of the number of games that are played per season (81 home games per team). Each NHL team gets 41 home games (2nd highest) NBA gets 41 (3rd highest), NFL gets 8 or 9 (highest in the major leagues), and the MLS gets 18 via a round-robin system (4th highest). Driving the cost higher those is the cost of player salaries and finding new revenue streams.
Along with the substantial ticket prices becomes the cost of food, drinks, and small souvenirs. A price to attend a game for a family of four is right now at $204.76. The Orioles are just below that at $167.71. Beer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards is some of the highest in baseball.
The MLB also charges one of the highest jersey prices throughout the league as replicas are going for an average of $170 and authentic jerseys’ average price to $470. It’s also not been very kind to that of the larger consumer as the MLB has not been making a lot of big and tall products for baseball fan base. I myself was looking for a big and tall city connect jersey with a player on the back of it, but there was just an authentic and priced at $479.99 plus + tax. Small souvenir prices are substantial as well.
The Crime Issue
Second, Baltimore has a crime problem that still has yet to be tackled by the Baltimore City Council and Baltimore Police. Since the riots of 2015, fans have been on edge to even return to a game. One game was actually locked down due to how bad the riots were getting on the outside of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Fans were having things thrown at them prior to the game and some fans did get injured during that time.
Homicides have stayed in the low 200 – high 300s since the 1980s. Drug and gang wars have overrun the city for the longest time and with police constantly having their hands full, many of the murders go unsolved. There is a running belief that homicides in Baltimore are underreported by up to 40%.
The area in and around Camden Yards is relatively safe thanks in part to the security that is at the yard. However, when people hear on the local news that there was another homicide in Baltimore in a neighborhood that’s not adjacent to Camden Yards, that’s an immediate turn off.
The Angelos Family and their refusal to sign a new lease.
Third, Fans are getting increasingly angry with John P. Angelos and family muddying the waters for refusing to sign a new lease at Camden Yards unless he gets what he wants. What it is that he wants, the fans do not know. The Angelos family was a hallmark and hailed by fans as a hero back in the mid-1990s thanks to Peter Angelos refusing to put replacement players on the field during the 1994-1995 baseball strike. However, the Angelos family has turned their backs on Baltimore fans by refusing to sign top talent or re-signing household names to remain in Baltimore for their careers. Fans have constantly complained about how the Angelos family won’t give big contracts to superstar talent so that they can remain with Baltimore and at the same rate, also help the team compete in the postseason.
It is also a very stern reminder to the fans that John P. Angelos has the final say in all transactions that may impact the team. If Mike Elias wants to make the deal but John says no. Deal’s dead, matter closed.
John P. Angelos needs to keep his nose out of the GM’s job. Angelos’ job should be to run the organization, the economy of the team, and business affairs involving the O’s and staying out of the player market when the general manager is trying to wheel and deal for top talent. The O’s have been constricted to a max payroll of $70,000,000 despite having the revenue and revenue streams necessary to push payroll up even more.
I also feel like that this is why Louis Angelos divested himself from the franchise and returned to work as a union attorney rather than run the team because he knew that John was “drunk with power” and would refuse to let go of the team operations. Louis has retained a percentage share without a title while John is considered CEO of the franchise with the controlling interest (51% ownership or higher for majority as chairman.)
There are other factors driving it but I feel as though these are the prime ones driving the issue of why fans aren’t flocking to the park.
Despite all these factors, fans should try their best to get to the stadium and keep the opposition out. This past series versus the Yankees is a very grim reminder that if O’s fans won’t grab the tickets, the opposition will and they will root on that team.
Come on fans, let’s get out there and support the Orioles push to the playoffs. The Orioles need their fans.