Orioles Take Unprecedented Step In Offering Free Tickets To Kids
The Orioles this season will "offer free admission to Orioles Park at Camden Yards to any child" age 9 and younger, according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The move is "believed to be unprecedented in major sports," and is "part of a larger youth outreach program the club is developing." The Orioles, who have "seen home attendance slide each of the last three years, have developed a dramatic plan of their own to engage kids, even if it ends up costing them revenue." The “Kids Cheer Free” promotion offers "two free upper-deck tickets for children nine and under with the purchase of every full-price adult ticket." The offer can be "multiplied, allowing a family with four kids age nine and younger to attend for free with two regular adult tickets." The free tickets will be "subject to availability on a month-by-month basis." The offer "represents one of the most aggressive marketing and sales efforts of any type in the industry to attract younger fans." The promotion is "part of an enhanced series of youth-driven efforts the Orioles are pursuing including a remodeling and expansion of its kids’ play area, adding more fireworks nights to its promotional calendar, and working with concessionaire Delaware North to offer more variety in the sizes of food and beverage items." A second play area at the ballpark is being planned for a '19 opening, with the Orioles "in discussions with Populous on the project" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/12 issue). ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted, "Nice promotion from the Orioles." Baltimore-based WNST-AM: "Nice for kids & parents. We'll see how many utilize it." Baltimore-based WJZ-FM's Jerry Coleman: "Cool deal. Unprecedented." The Big Leagues Daily's Dan Clark: "The #Orioles 'Kids Cheer Free' initiative is brilliant. ... This is what baseball is all about, opening it up to the next generation. This will really help families doing it a little tough. Awesome!"
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME: In Baltimore, Eduardo Encina noted despite "drawing more than two million fans last season, the Orioles’ average home attendance of 25,042 a game was the team’s lowest" since '11. The "Junior Orioles Dugout Club" promotion is "still considered a better bargain than the new initiative," as it "features benefits for fans 14 and under, including a free ticket to six selected Orioles games." The Orioles' "Kids Run The Bases" effort invites fans ages 4-14 to "round the bases after each Sunday home game" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/12).
CHANGING COURSE? In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette are in the final years of their contracts, while there also has been a "shift in ownership responsibilities," where Exec VP John Angelos is "said to have taken over for his father, Peter." It "doesn’t appear the Angelos family will sell" the team, though the Orioles still "could face a total rebuild" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/11).