Where Have All of the Baltimore Sports Fans Gone?

May 27, 2009 | Thyrl Nelson

On Sunday, maybe they’ll be with me, in Dover for the NASCAR race.


After watching another 10,000 or so fans turn out for the major league debut of Jason Berken on Tuesday night, and one day after the team returned from a 10-game road trip for a holiday day game at half capacity, the question has struck me like a ton of bricks. Where have all of the local fans gone?


I know they still exist, because they turn out 70,000+ strong for 8 Ravens’ home dates per year, and could surely turn out in greater numbers than that, if the stadium were equipped to accommodate it. But where are all of the local sports fans in the summertime these days?


The city isn’t shrinking, yet a town that used to sell out 81 or more Orioles games per year to the tune of 48,00+, a town that used to boast over 100,000 strong on the Preakness infield, can no longer boast either. So I’m left simply wondering where the fans have gone with their money, and whether or not the O’s, the Preakness or anyone else outside the Ravens can expect them back anytime soon.


I’m sure that the economy has a lot to do with the state of things today, and maybe once the news turns brighter, things may begin to turn around. Long overdue and promised improvements to both the Preakness and the baseball team would certainly make the case to attend either much more compelling too. Hopefully we’ll start seeing those turnarounds soon, for both entities.


My guess, even with the economy in its current state, is that folks are willing to pay for entertainment, sports or otherwise, as long as they feel like they’re getting value for the money that they’re spending. The O’s, for example were smart to announce the eminent arrival of Matt Wieters this Friday, with enough advance notice to see an improvement in ticket sales for his debut on Friday, and carrying into Saturday too. We’ll see.


On Sunday though, with a 1:35 start, after a night game, Wieters will likely be on the bench, and Greg Zaun should be settling into his new role as backup catcher. So on Sunday, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t join me on a bus trip to see NASCAR live at Dover International Speedway.


In terms of value, you simply can’t beat it. For $99 you’re getting a race ticket worth $85, and safe passage to and from the race in the air conditioned comfort of a Gunther Charters Motor Coach. The ride, in and of itself is probably worth the extra $15, but in case that’s not enough, there’ll be free food, soft drinks and cold Coors Light on the bus too.


Those who chose to boycott he Preakness this year will be happy to know that you can bring coolers into the race as long as they meet size restrictions, and Dover will provide you with a first hand look at what Maryland horse racing hopes to be in the near future. We’ll get there in plenty of time for you to check out the horse racing facility, the casino, or the tax free shopping mall, in addition to all of the sights, sounds, and events associated with the race itself.


Dover race veteran, and Sunday Morning Blitz host, Rex Snider will be there to meet us, and give a quick tutorial on all of Dover’s festivities. And you can check out the Dover Speedway’s web site here, to learn about cooler size limits, and other FAQs.


And you can click here to sign up to join me in Dover this weekend for the Autism Speaks 400. Hope to see you there.