« Could Izturis have a Rockie future? | Main | Calling all posters: Reader poll »

June 20, 2010

O's attendance: Disraeli was right

Just finished reading our story by Jeff Barker and David Zurawik detailing how the Orioles actually have experienced an increase in attendance and TV ratings during what could turn out to be the worst season in Orioles history.

It seems inexplicable, when you consider just how badly the Orioles have done, but it's not as big a testament to the undying loyalty of Orioles fans as you might think.

The total attendance numbers for the first 32 home games of the season do show a 9.5 percent increase, but that increase is totally explained away by the fact that the Orioles have played 15 games so far against the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets -- games that typically draw twice as many fans as games against less popular opponents, a large percentage of those fans cheering for the enemy. Last year, the Orioles had played only six home games against those teams (all six against the Yankees) by this point in the season.

So, would you like to know the game averages in the games that don't include a healthy infusion of New Yorkers, Bostonians and their Baltimore transplants?

The Orioles have played 17 home games against the rest of the major leagues and have averaged 19,679 fans. Last year at this time, the Orioles had played 26 of their first 32 home games against teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets. But to make the comparison as equitable as possible, I'll add the home opener against the Yankees because the O's generally sell that game out against anybody.

For those 27 games last year, the Orioles averaged 19,831 fans, which means there has been a slight drop in attendance this year when we're talking about the games that are largely attended by local fans.

disraeliphoto.jpgI'm no expert on television ratings, but I've got to believe the concentration of games against the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox also has played a role there, since it puts a lot of those transplanted out-of-town fans in front of the television for those games. The Orioles have played 24 games (home and away) against those teams this year as opposed to 16 by this time last year.

The good news: I guess it's still amazing that attendance is holding pretty firm year over year under the circumstances (though there is a corporate season ticket base that props it up even if the tickets are not used), and the fact that so many premium games were frontloaded into the schedule allowed the O's to draw during the worst of competitive times.

I'm guessing you'll see a drop in overall attendance at the end of the year unless the team improves, but it may help that the big teams subsidized the months when the kids were in school. If it's a nice temperate summer, maybe the fans will show up anyway.

The bad news: How much lower can it possibly go? The Orioles are drawing half what they drew in the salad days of Camden Yards, so it's hard to get excited about a modest uptick, especially when you're not looking at the whole picture.

The worst news: Even though the early cluster of games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets helped boost average attendance by 9.5 percent. The average attendance at those premium games was 28,664, a 10.3 percent drop from last year's average of 31,954 for those games (again excluding Opening Day against the Yankees in 2009). That number could improve in the premium games at the end of the season, but it's not a great sign

Oh, for you youngsters who aren't history buffs, Benjamin Disraeli (above right) was the great 19th century British prime minister who coined the famous phrase: "There are three kinds of lies -- lies, damned lies and statistics."

One more thing: When you get a chance, take a look at the package that Ken Murray and I did on the future of Ravens receiver Demetrius Williams. You can read Ken's story right here, and my accompanying column here. Of course, the whole thing looks pretty impressive on the cover of the print edition of the sports section, so pick that up if you get a chance. We've got kids to feed.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:54 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Just baseball


I was thinking almost exactly that. Nice work, Schmuck.

Happy Father's Day Pete, and to all of the Dads out there in Schmuckville.

If Disraeli were alive today, he may have said, "There are four kinds of lies--Lies, damned lies, statistics and "The Plan."

Pete -

Happy Father's Day! Excellent post. I have to admit I'm surprised they're almost holding steady despite the fact that this season has been a train wreck since day one.

Gil - thinking the same thing.

Shmuckers put up a blog of substance

It even had facts and stats and everything

Way to go Schmukeroni

Another major element is the elements: 2010 has had about 10 inches less rain during the season to date than last season. And a lot of the rainy spring days in 2009 were quite cold. Normalize these attendance stats by rainy days and 2010 is much worse.

Other possible reasons the Orioles viewship and attendance are up:

1. We don't want to miss an inning as The Plan unfolds.

2. The Os are finding new ways to lose every game, so we don't want to miss one.

3. We are still answering the question, "Can the Orioles really be this bad?"

4. The Orioles are like an environmental disaster.... it's hard to turn away.

5. We think Atkins is just one hit away from turning into Rob Hobbs.

6. There might be a quiz at the end of the season with the prize for poorest score being given a season ticket next year. The best (highest) score earns a selective labotomy that will erase all memories of this season.

Rather than Disraeli, perhaps we should be looking to P T Barnum for the reason for steady attendance, "There's a sucker born every minute"

Don't you mean ticket sales as opposed to "attendance" at games?????

I believe the Orioles announce ticket sales as it sounds so much better than giving a turnstile count when a lot of "those in attendance" are disguised as empty seats.

Happy father's day Pete. Guess I'm a little annoyed with O's as usual. Five hits today and another series loss. Everybody going bonkers trying to get on the "Save Terry Crowley" bandwagon. Gotta ask - Why ? ? ? Look at this guy's numbers. 15 seasons. 42 homeruns. Yes, that's 42 homeruns total. Good hitters can do that in an All-star year. Where are Crowley's All-Stars? That's what I want to know. That's right, he doesn't have any. Sure, the O's will score a Pity Pick from MLB, but does anybody on the O's really DESERVE to be an All-Star? Please, don't tell me Wigginton. He's a good player , but not an All-Star. Sooooo, everybody, let's all join in and agree what a SWELL guy Terry Crowley is - he of the .250 lifetime average and we'll all just keep wondering why in the world the O's can't hit.

"Don't you mean ticket sales as opposed to "attendance" at games?????" - Gus Smegma

So totally correct. The Opening Day sellout was attended by maybe 38,000.

Sellout indeed.

Hey Pete....any idea what the "corporate" season ticket base is vs. "regular" folks like me? I have a 29 game plan, and the lowest attendance when I've attended was around 12,000....this means between 81 game and 29 game plans, the base has to be slightly south of that number, assuming some walk-up and single game advance sales. And the lowest attendance this year has been less than 10,000 - so the 81 game plans are less than that. Any way you look at it, that's a pretty low base...I wonder what percentage of that is corporate???

Great blog Pete....I read it every day!

"The Orioles are drawing half what they drew in the salad days of Camden Yards,..."

There was no salad in dem days. It was wine and cheese!

Great job Pete! Thank you for having some insight and not just taking the press release that Greg Bader or whoever else in the warehouse puts out expecting their "media partners" to report. The on-field part of the Orioles is getting examined lately, but we all know that it's the front office and ownership that *really* needs to be examined for 13 years of futility, but no one seems to have the guts to do that since angelos, Inc. lets their "media partners" know what to report and what not to. This fan is tired of the Jim Hunters and Tom Davis's of the world trying to put a positive spin on a train wreck of an organization. Keep it up, Peter Schmuck!!

Interesting Pete, I had always attributed that quote to Mark Twain. Upon further review, no one is sure if Benjamin Disraeli originally coined that term:,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

Peter you are exactly right. The second I started reading that article my first thoughts were, "yeah, but they've played the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox a bunch of times, what about the REST of the games?"

My question to you is why didn't Jeff and David do that simple homework? You all work for the same paper. Couldn't they have done some research and spoken with you first?

Was that article writen from a pro-Orioles perspective ahead of time? It was just poor journalism in my opinion. Anyone with any sense should have come to the same conclusion you did.

Keep up the good work Peter!

I agree that the most important factor to control for (that hadn't been controlled for until you wrote this post) is the opposing team.

I also wonder how the recession affected attendance early this season. Folks are still struggling with finances on the homefront, but unemployment rates are on their way back down. Last year these rates were still increasing, leaving many uncertain about their future income.

I'd like to see the correlation between attendance at Camden Yards and attendance at Nationals Park on days when Strasburg is pitching in DC. The baseball markets in DC and Baltimore should theoretically compete for fans when the odds of witnessing a no hitter closely resemble the odds of and Orioles win.

nice blog. I appreciate the time and effort you put into it. Numbers never lie, but that is because they cannot speak for themselves.

Fingerprint based time management ideal for offices and corporate with time attendance software.
Time Attendance

not sure if anyone is looking back this far, but funny family guy-disraeli reference.

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "a" in the field below:
About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

Schmuck column archive

Upload a photo of yourself or a friend wearing the new Peter Schmuck T-shirt, which is on sale at

Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected