O's ticket sales rise with price Foss says response shows fans support 'winning commitment'

February 08, 1997|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Tickets to Orioles games cost more. Nevertheless, the team apparently is selling more of them.

According to Joe Foss, the club's chief financial officer, overall ticket sales have jumped more than 10 percent. What the increased sales demonstrate, Foss said, is that "fans respect the position we took on raising prices."

The bickering over baseball's new labor agreement and the subsequent delay in finalizing the interleague schedule delayed the sale of Orioles' 1997 tickets by about two months, Foss said.

In spite of that lag, Foss reported yesterday that the club has sold 25,000 season tickets, or 2,000 more than they had sold by Feb. 7 of last year. The Orioles have sold approximately 2,525,000 tickets for the '97 season, more than the 2,258,000 they had sold by Feb. 7, 1996.

The Orioles' decision to raise ticket prices, then, is apparently having no adverse effect. "I think fans out there see that the Orioles' management is committed to putting a winning team out on the field," said Foss. "We're coming off the momentum from 1996, the team making it to the postseason for the first time since 1983, and there's anticipation of another playoff-bound team for 1997.

"We've got what I think is the best ballpark in the country, and baseball continues to be popular around the country."

The Orioles drew 3,646,950 last season, an average of 45,024, the second-best total in baseball behind only Colorado. The Orioles' player payroll was about $50 million, and club officials maintain the team lost about $5 million last year.

The Orioles' payroll will increase this year, to around $54 million to $55 million. At the time the team announced the increase of ticket prices -- overall, about 19 percent -- club officials attributed the decision to the rising cost of competing in the AL East, which includes three teams -- the New York Yankees, Toronto and Boston -- with payrolls of about $50 million or more.

"The fans understand the position we took," said Foss. "That has really manifested itself in the number [of tickets sold]. We're reinvesting that money in our major-league and minor-league talent."

The Orioles' Opening Day, April 1 vs. the Kansas City Royals, has sold out, Foss said, and the Orioles are close to selling out games against the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. Foss said that tickets for weekend series are moving fast, as well.

Pub Date: 2/08/97

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