It’s time for the Orioles “to get clean”

August 20, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Drop the day-of-game ticket surcharge.

It’s bad P.R., more than anything else.  And please, please, please don’t give me the “they’re just throwing money away by doing away with the ticket surcharge.”

Actually, they’re throwing money away with every empty seat.

They stand to lose a lot more (like, $9.00 for an upper deck seat) from an empty seat than they gain from bilking you out of two extra dollars.  Surely they must know that.  Well, obviously, they don’t.  But, again, let’s not revisit their dumb ticket policies.

Let’s get people to the ballpark.

So…drop the ticket surcharge for September.

And make a BIG deal about it.

Advertise it.  Market it.  Brag about it.  Go out of your way to say, “Hey, we really would like to get you back in September and help this team make the playoffs.  Here’s what we’ll do to help encourage you.”

Here’s something the Orioles probably haven’t figured out yet, but I’ll give them a tip from the top.  If they did something like that — like dropping the day of game surcharge — the media in town would probably talk about it FOR FREE!  Wow, how’s that for imaginative?  People like me, in fact (or at least anyone with a vested interest in the team who was born and raised here…which eliminates about 80% of the folks on the “other station” in town), would go out of their way to praise the club for giving the fans a backrub during the pennant race.

There’s one more thing the team could do.

It’s not the last thing.  But it’s one more thing.  And it’s important.

The Orioles should let every student in the stadium for $5.00 at every September home game.  Student — that means ANYONE in school.  I don’t care how old…how many years you’ve been there…what your grades are.

If you attend a school, you’re a student.  And if you’re a student, the Orioles should welcome you in this September for the meager sum of five bucks.

And I’m not talking about duplicating the scam that was Student Night 2012, where the club often times wound up squeezing $18.00 out of students who thought they were getting a $6.00 seat because – *ahem* – “the student tickets are all sold out”.

I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness, “every student gets in for five dollars at all September home games” offer.

This accomplishes two things.

First, it helps to ease the pain of “kids are back in school so they can’t be staying out late and watching a baseball game”, which always works against the Orioles once Labor Day comes and goes.

For five dollars, it might be an easier pill for mom and dad to swallow if the games matter and they want to take their child or children.

Next, even though they’d never admit it, allowing every student in the ballpark for $5.00 throughout September would be a discreet gesture of apology from the club for the way they mucked up the student night during the previous months.  They wouldn’t need to advertise it as such – God forbid the club admit an error in their ways – but by letting every student in for a five dollar bill, they’d be providing a “make good” of sorts to those who were put off by the bait and switch tactics the club essentially used on Friday nights in the spring and summer.

And without apologizing for their bullying, the Orioles could market the snot out of “every night is student night in September”.

If the Orioles do a good enough job of promoting the concept, they could borrow a line from one of Eminem’s best songs, “Not Afraid”, where he says:  “It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me.  Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally, for you.”

The student night program was chaotic and woefully executed by the club this season.  Fans left the ballpark frustrated.  Some left without ever actually getting in.  And the Orioles were swamped with complaints from parents.  This would be their way, as Eminem said, “to get clean”.  Yet, truth be told, they’re really doing it for the folks who fell victim to the upselling tactics surrounding Student Night.

Those three things…reaching out to former season and mini-plan holders, with some sort of reduced or special offer for ONE game in September.  Alleviating the day-of-game ticket surcharge for all September home games.  And offering a $5.00 ticket to ANY student who attends a home game in September.  Those three things could be appetizers for the Baltimore baseball fan next month.

They shouldn’t be the only three things the club does next month to draw people to the ballpark.

People in The Warehouse who are reading this right now are driving fancy cars and storing bottles of Silver Oak in their basement because they’re supposed to know how to get people to buy tickets in September.

I’m a dummy and I just offered three reasonable options.

Add seven more ideas to those three and let’s make it happen in September.

One thing for sure.

This is, in fact, the team’s chance “to get clean”, in more ways than one.

Fourteen years of losing baseball.  Sagging attendance and a general lack of interest in the club over the last half dozen years or more.

It hasn’t been the fan’s fault, that’s for sure.

If the Orioles want people to fill the seats in September, they have to lead them in by the hand.

They have to say, “We’re going to show you that we truly want you here.”

And then they have to do it.

No tricks, no gimmicks, no “sorry, that section is sold out but we’ll get you another seat for twelve more dollars.”

Just be nice to the fans.

Be EXTRA nice, in fact.

And they might come back in September.