SBD/May 11, 2012/Franchises

Orioles Hope Winning Record Will Entice Fans To Return To Camden Yards

Orioles hoping improved on-the-field play will draw fans back to Camden Yards
The Orioles are tied for first place in the AL East heading into the weekend and if there "ever was a time for Orioles fans to get excited again, this should be it," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles "no longer merit the benefit of the doubt." But for Monday night's home game against the Rangers, the crowd "was only 11,938." The crowd on Tuesday, a night that "began with a threat of rain and ended with four runs by the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, was 11,263." Rosenthal noted it is "difficult to remember now, but the Orioles led the AL in attendance for four straight seasons" from '95-98. Since then, the team has "effectively lost a generation." Their average attendance "dropped from 38,686 in 2001 to 21,395 in 2010 before rebounding slightly last season." Orioles CF Adam Jones said, "You can't just give 'em a little taste of it. You've got to show 'em it's not a fluke." Rosenthal: "Do that, and the fans will come rushing back." When the Ravens arrived in '96, they "became one of the best-run franchises in the NFL and eclipsed the Orioles in popularity." The Nationals moved to DC in '05 and "also chipped away at the Baltimore fan base." The Orioles, when they "opposed the relocation of a team to DC, contended that almost a quarter of their fans came from Washington and northern Virginia." Whether that was "true or not, the excuse goes only so far. [Owner Peter] Angelos' shoddy leadership damaged the franchise far more than the Nats ever could" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/9). 

ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM: Nationals COO Andrew Feffer said of the team's "Take Back the Park" campaign, initiated for last weekend's series against the Phillies, "To me, it couldn’t have gone any better. I had a strong feeling our fans would show up this weekend, and as I looked at the crowd, I was proud to be a Washingtonian. Our fans understood how important these games were, and our fans rose to the challenge. ... I see this as a preview of what [is] to come. It doesn’t end this weekend; this was just the beginning." Feffer added, "Over 106,000 showed up for the weekend. Of those 106,000, the story before had always been that there were more Phillies fans than Nats fans. I thought our fans took back the park. The overwhelming majority of the fans all three nights made a statement that was certainly strong" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/8).
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