Once again, fans pay the price for Orioles lack of common “cents”

January 06, 2011 | Drew Forrester

of crowd control at the Convention Center?  Oh, that’s right. Having MORE security in place costs MORE money and well, we know the deal there…the Orioles can’t foot THAT bill.

The Ravens run a 25-day circus in Westminster every August called “training camp” and if there was ever an enterprise that warranted charging the fans $5.00 or $10.00 to come in, it’s training camp.  It costs the Ravens about one million dollars to hold training camp out there every summer.  As a business, having an expense of a million bucks and having little or no revenue to offset that expense is silly.  But the Ravens do it.  They made their own autograph policy change last summer, setting up a special section for children in attendance and effectively making it more difficult for adults to garner autographs of their players.

But the Ravens didn’t charge anyone for an autograph.  And they’ve never charged for training camp, although I suspect at some point in the future they’ll be forced to do it. One Ravens staffer told me the cost of training camp has gone up by $300,00 over the last five years.  Yet they haven’t charged admission, or a parking fee, or $10.00 for the right to wipe the sweat off of Joe Flacco’s brow and keep the towel as a momento.

It’s almost unfair to compare anything the Orioles do with what the Ravens do, because the two of them are so opposite in the way they think – both on a personal and corporate level – that you can’t really judge one off the other.

The Ravens think one way.

The Orioles think a completely different way.

One thing we know for sure about the way the Orioles think.  They think about money first.  Except when it comes to spending it on improving the team on the field.

They don’t have a problem asking some 44-year old lifetime fan of the team from Parkville or Mt. Washington or Glyndon to give them $15.00 for a couple of signatures on a piece of paper, but they have an issue with giving Victor Martinez $5 million more or going back to the table with Adam Dunn to try and lure him to Camden Yards.

They’ll charge a fan $15.00 for an autograph – and supposedly donate it to their charity – but then turn around and try to justify giving Jeremy Guthrie a $125,000 paycut two years ago.

The summary of the Orioles is this:  The fans always pay ALL of the freight.  They pay the freight by handing over $2.00 more on game-day, they pay the freight by shelling out $3.00 a month on their cable bill and they pay the freight by having to give some amount of money (unpublished) for the right to grace the halls of the Convention Center and they pay the freight for the right to fist-bump Adam Jones and get his signature.

That the Orioles donate monies to charity through some of these endeavors shouldn’t gloss over the fact that they rarely, if ever, do anything for the fans without putting a fee on top of it.

It would be like WNST.net hosting a bus trip to next week’s Pittsburgh or New England road playoff game and saying “beer and breakfast provided on the bus” and then charging everyone $4.00 for a Chick Fil-A sandwich and $2.50 for each Miller Lite you drink.  ”Well, we said beer and breakfast would be PROVIDED…we didn’t say it would be FREE.”

Gouging.

The Orioles do it a lot.

I remember saying to myself last January, “even the Orioles couldn’t screw this event up”.

Well, it took a while, but charging fans $15.00 is a step in that direction.

Raising money for charity is great.  We do things here all the time at WNST.net that try to benefit local charities.  We just asked a bunch of you to drop off coats and cans in order to make our community better.

And if the Orioles would say “$3.00 of your $10.00 admission fee goes to OriolesREACH and local charities”, I think that would be just fine.

But NOT posting the admission fee on the web-site, then asking for $15.00 from an adult who wants an autograph?  It looks shady.  It looks cheap.  It looks petty.

It looks, frankly, like something The Orioles would do.

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