With Opening Day 2009 only a mere two months away, obviously most fans are curious as to what the season holds in store for us at Camden Yards.
This week, I decided to reach out and send a few questions via email to Greg Bader -- Director of Communications for the Baltimore Orioles -- about the upcoming season, the economy, the ballpark itself, the team's community efforts and the re-design of the jerseys.
Mr. Bader was gracious enough to respond to my inquiry in less than 24 hours, and his responses are below.
Oriole Post: Now, I know the Orioles have had several affordable plans available for a while – Bargain nights on Tuesdays, Student Night and also the Junior Oriole Dugout Club program – however, with the state of the economy right now, will the organization be impacted by it?
Greg Bader: There is no question that the state of the economy will play a role in the way people decide to spend their money on entertainment. While we strongly believe that baseball and the Orioles are uniquely positioned in the marketplace as an affordable family entertainment option, we also recognize that times are tough. That is why we have $9 tickets for virtually every game, $8 Bargain Night tickets every Tuesday, $6 Student Night tickets every Friday, and of course the Junior Orioles Dugout Club for kids 14 and under (it should be noted that the Dugout Club provides well over a $100 value for just $17).
We also continue to offer the most liberal food policy for any ballpark in the country by permitting fans to bring in food and drink (alcohol, glass bottles and cans excluded, of course). You will also see the club taking additional steps to make sure that Orioles Baseball is a viable option. For example, on Thursday, we will be announcing a new program which invites everyone to spend their birthday at Oriole Park for free! There will be other ticket programs announced before Opening Day directed specifically at families with children, so be on the lookout.
Oriole Post: Are there any new promotions or giveaways that fans should look forward to this upcoming season?
Greg Bader: We have a variety of new promotions as well as several fan-favorite giveaways in 2009. Joining the schedule of 5 fireworks nights, floppy hat night and 6 T-shirt Tuesdays (the first featuring Koji Uehara) are giveaways such as Adam Jones bobblehead night, O's/Ravens Rally cap, a fleece scarf, and a Webkinz Oriole Bird. Visit orioles.com to see a preliminary list of promotions and special events, with more to be added in the coming weeks
Oriole Post: Last year, the Orioles installed HD scoreboards in centerfield and on the wall in right field, so will fans in 2009 see any more improvements or add-ons at Camden Yards?
Greg Bader: The second phase of our entertainment system enhancements at Oriole Park will be ready for Opening Day. Those enhancements include the addition of an HD-ready control room, meaning all live video will now be shown in HD on the HD scoreboards (previously just graphics were in true HD format) as well as the installation of a brand new sound system throughout the ballpark. While less obvious, the grass on the field has been changed as well. The new sod will appear a richer, deeper green in color, making the grass appear to be more lush looking throughout the summer. Other enhancements, such as changes to our concessions offerings, will be announced closer to Opening Day.
Oriole Post: I know a lot of fans have expressed their feelings about the influx of Yankee and Red Sox fans who invade the park when their team comes to town (I can tell you from experience); however, how do many in the organization feel about this issue? I know fans have the right to purchase tickets no matter who they root for, but how is the team trying to change that trend?
Greg Bader: We share the desire of Orioles fans to have a smaller percentage of Yankees and Red Sox fans in the stands during these match-ups. We strongly encourage O's fans to buy tickets now before the out of town fans get them, as that is truly the only way to ensure they don't end up in enemy hands. We are agressively marketing these games to Orioles fans, both individuals and groups, and just sent an email on Monday to our entire email database in an effort to encourage O's fans to act now. The longer fans wait, the more likely their seats are going to be filled with Yankees and Red Sox fans. And of course we encourage season plan holders to keep these tickets and either use them themselves or give them to fellow Orioles fans. We provide several ticket deals and
Oriole Post: Last year, the Orioles held a pre-game ceremony before a game to reunite the 1983 World Series Championship team. Will there be any other special events or ceremonies in 2009 to honor or bring back Oriole legends? While we will not be holding a celebration the magnitude of the 25th anniversary celebration for the '83 champs, there will be several events and ceremonies designed to honor past teams and former players.
Starting with a 'Why Not?' celebration on February 10 at ESPN Zone (featuring Mike Devereaux, Dave Johnson and Larry Sheets), there will be a handful of events to honor the 20th anniversary of the '89 Orioles. Additionally, we will be acknowledging the '69 and '79 Orioles on their fantastic pennant-winning seasons. A complete list of these ceremonies will be announced closer to Opening Day, but I am confident fans will see more former players involved in activities at Camden Yards than ever before.
Oriole Post: I know the Orioles have been involved in a lot of philanthropic ventures over the years, and getting players into the community through charity work, etc. Can you explain some of those ventures the team is involved in for fans who know little to nothing about it?
Greg Bader: Community involvement is an absolutely critical component to the Orioles organization. Our mission statement declares that our duty is to provide assistance to those in need and to make our community a better place. Under the leadership of Mr. Angelos, we established OriolesREACH in 2007 to call a greater attention to our community initiatives in an effort to reach those who need our assistance the most. Through the OriolesREACH Gameday Experience Program, over 10,000 kids experience a game at Oriole Park (many of whom have never before been to an MLB game) with free tickets, transportation, food & beverage, t-shirts and hats. A complete listing of all of our community programs are listed at OriolesREACH.com and the 2008 Annual Report can be downloaded there as well.
Oriole Post: Finally, we all know that the team revamped the jerseys. The biggest news was that “Baltimore” returned to the grey road jersey after nearly four decades, but I’m curious what has been the overall reaction it, and when the decision was made to do so?
Greg Bader: The response to all of our uniform and logo changes has been overwhelmingly positive. The addition of Baltimore on the road jerseys has been universally lauded and Mr. Angelos himself deserves the credit. It was his vision and direction that enabled us to revamp the look of our jerseys to make them more contemorary and streamlined, and to add Baltimore to not only the road jersey, but to a brand new road BP jersey as well.
We had always said that if we were to ever add Baltimore back on to the jerseys it would be part of a comprehensive brand enhancement, which we believe was captured with these recent changes. We hope our fans enjoy all of the changes that were made. I know I personally look forward to seeing the team take the field in Fort Lauderdale in the new threads.