Despite uncertainties raised by the war in the Persian Gulf and a shaky local economy, the Baltimore Orioles appear on their way to a second consecutive year of record season-ticket sales.
Lou Michaelson, Orioles vice president for sales, said that season-ticket sales for 1991 stand at 13,700. That is less than the record 15,024 sold by the Orioles last season but 243 ahead of the number sold last year at this time.
By Opening Day, the Orioles expect to have sold out, or nearly sold out, their inventory of season tickets at 53,371-seat Memorial Stadium. For the coming season, that will be 17,000, Michaelson said. Last year, the Orioles stopped taking orders when they reached 15,000, in part because tickets that might have been sold as season tickets had been sold for individual games.
"We just feel there's enough of a demand in the marketplace," Michaelson said, explaining the new, higher limit.
The Orioles consider two types of seats in their count of season tickets. One is a full-season ticket for all 81 home games. The others are the tickets sold on the team's mini-plans, which can be purchased for 13 or 29 designated games. When several mini-plans add up to 81 games, they are counted as a full season ticket.
So far, Michaelson said, the Orioles have received renewals fromabout 80 percent of last year's season-ticket holders. Of the 10,591 full-season plan holders, 8,824 sent in renewals and of 4,433 mini-plan holders, 3,165 have paid for tickets for 1991. In addition, the team has sold 701 full-season tickets and 1,010 mini-plan equivalents to new buyers, Michaelson said.
The total of 9,525 full-season tickets means that the Orioles apparently will meet for the second straight year the minimum standards of a 10-year ticket guarantee established by 30 local businesses.
The guarantee, which took effect last year, assured the Orioles revenue equal to the sale of 10,000 full-season tickets for their final two years at Memorial Stadium. When they move to the new Camden Yards baseball park, as they expect for the 1992 season, the Orioles are guaranteed revenue from 12,345 full-season tickets per season.
Michaelson said the renewal campaign has been hampered by glitches with computers that store information about the Orioles season-ticket subscribers, some of whom, the Orioles suspect, still haven't received notices about renewing for next season. To accommodate them, Michaelson said, the deadline for renewing season tickets has been extended until Feb. 1 and all ticket holders who have not renewed will receive calls from the Orioles in the coming week.
Michaelson said he couldn't assess how many didn't renew because of the slow economy or because of a new policy that reduced, from 10 to five percent, a discount for season-ticket buyers who renewed early.