When the Baltimore Orioles move to the new downtown ballpark in 1992, they won't be taking their current ticket prices with them.
That much has been obvious for a long time. What hasn't been clear is how high ticket prices would go at the new ballpark.
DTC Now, there is a clue.
In letters they received late last week, some Orioles season-ticket buyers have been advised to expect price increases of about $2 per ticket for lower- and terrace-box seats and about $1.50 for box seats in the upper deck of the new ballpark.
This season, the Orioles charge $11 for a lower-box seat, $10 for a terrace box and $8.50 for an upper-box seat.
According to the letter, the Orioles also have zeroed in on prices for seats in the plush Club Level, where fans can spend the seventh-inning stretch eating a shrimp cocktail or receiving a fax. Estimated ticket price: $25.
These price estimates came from members of the Orioles Designated Hitters, and were mailed to an undetermined number of the team's ticket buyers. The DHs are a volunteer sales force of about 60 ticket solicitors. Often, DHs befriend their longtime customers and try to keep them up to date with news about the team.
To date, the Orioles have said that 1992 ticket prices have not been decided. Yesterday, Lou Michaelson, Orioles vice president for sales, repeated that. Michaelson said price estimates in the letters sent to Orioles ticket buyers were "very unofficial."
But he did not discount them, either.
"It could wind up that ticket prices vary 50 cents or a dollar in either direction. But I think they are going to come relatively close to that," Michaelson said.
Michaelson said Orioles officials have met with the DHs to talk about next year's ticket prices. The meetings were part of a plan to get ideas from as many groups as possible before team officials finally decide on next year's prices, he said.
"We've met with the DHs. But the purpose was not to explain a final policy as much as getting input," Michaelson said.
The Orioles have not said when they will launch their ticket campaign for 1992, which would include the official announcement about prices. But it probably will happen later this month or in early August when all season-ticket customers will receive an elaborate color brochure about the new ballpark, complete with details about seats, sightlines and prices. The mailing also is expected to include a questionnaire asking the Orioles' regular customers to choose the number of seats they want in the new ballpark, which will have about 47,000 seats, and the locations.
If some DHs have given their customers a small preview of what lies ahead, Michaelson said he didn't think that was all bad.
"They are not doing a disservice. They are trying to serve their customers and sell as best they can," Michaelson said.