A Baltimore Orioles' survey of attendance at their home games last season indicates that 10.1 per cent of the fans passing through Memorial Stadium gates came from the Washington metropolitan area.
As a result of this figure, which Oriole management considers high, the club is preparing to step up its advertising and promotional campaigns in the Washington area and possibly seek a local radio contract for Oriole games.
The survey also shows that a high percentage of Washington-area people attending Oriole games are business people and college graduates.
The Orioles' intention to tap the Washington market reflects their desire to be recognized as having exclusive to be recognized as having exclusive territorial rights over the Washington-Baltimore area.
In the past, Oriole management has said the Baltimore franchise would not suffer if Washington had a team of its own. But the survey indicate that D. C.-area fans - many of whom presumably would shift allegiance to a Washington team - make up a significant part of Baltimore's backing. Their support is particularly improtant to the Orioles considering the team's history of thin profit margins.
The 1977 Oriole financial statement will not be ready for a few weeks. But, Mac Barrett, a club spokesman, said yesterday that if there is any profit itr would be "very modest."
The fan profite survey was based on 1.025 interviews on 24 dates at the stadium. The Orioles' total attendance was 1,195.769 persons for 77 home dates.
A precise breakdown of the number of Washington-area people at the games was not available, but the Orioles said they included people from Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and, Montgomery and Price George's counties.
What the Orioles ultimately decide to do about promotion in the D.C. area nedt season may hinge on events at next week's winter baseball meetings in Honolulu.
The subject of Washington's prospects for another baseball club is not on the agenda, but most likely will be discussed informally. The proposal for the Orioles to play 11 games in Washington's RFK Stadium may be raised and dropped again, as it customarily has been at the meetings.
"What (Oakland A's owner) Charlie Finley determines to do (about selling) his ball club may trigger a chan of events," said Barrett. "If it seems that any day a franchise could go into Washington, we may not want to do a lot of promoting.
"And if it doesn't look good for Washington, we'll investigate a concerted marketing effort in Washington."
Oriole general manager Hank Peters was en route to the Honolulu meetings and could not be reached. He told the Baltimore Sun he hoped "things would be a little clearer after the meetings. Then we might decide we want to do something more.
"We look at Washington as a development area and we would want to establish what we hope would be a lasising relationship. Until you know what's going to happen, you don't want to get the wheals rolling."
If all signs are go, Barrett said, a radio contract with WIOP (1500) here would be "the first project for exploration." Oriole games are broadeast over WBAL radio and WJZ-TV in Baltimore but their signals are difficult to pick up in parts of the Washington area, particularly Northern Virginia.
"It's very hard to get regular fans to identify with the club if they're only getting a smattering of games," Barrett said.
Jerold C. Hoffberger, principal owner of the Orioles, said yesterday he did not know what if anything, Peters might propose at the winter meetings regarding Washington.
Hoffberger also refused to comment on the survey, saving he hadn't seen it. When asked his reaction to the Washington-area attendance figure, Hoffberger said, "I wish it were 35 per cent."
Al Harazin, the Orinles business manager, was also traveling to Honolulu yesterday but, he told the Baltimore Sun that the Washington figure was "very high percentage when you stop to think we haven't put a major marketing effort into the area.
"It surprised me it's that high. I think there's something substantial there. I don't know whether all these people are Oriole fans, but that's immaterial. They're baseball fans."
According to the survey results, the Washington area market becomes even more appealing when the college-graduate and professional business people are tallied. The profile showed:
Most Oriole fans are young and have a college background. More than half of the adults are 34 years of age or younger: 70 percent are 41 and under. Some 62.2 percent have some college education and o36.9 per cent have degrees. Washington fans account for a "particularly high" number of the graduate. No further breakdown was available.
Professional people doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc. made up 20 per cent and again, a "high percentage" (number available) of them came from the Washington area. Blue collar workers comprised 24 per cent and white collar workers 23 per cent.
The survey also notes that few Washington-area people attend Oriole promotional nights.
The survey also showed the following attendances: Baltimore City 35.8 per cent; Baltimore County, 25.2; Anne Arundel County, 6: Howard County, 2.9; Hanford County, 3.1, and all other counties combined - exvluding Prince George's and Montgomery - 5.3.
The other 11 per cent came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and other states.
When asked what it would require to attend more games, more than half those interviewed cited stadium related items: improved parking, 21 per cent; a more accessible or new stadium, 11: better concessions and prices, 8: improved rest rooms, 5 and improved traffice flow, 4. Only 4 per cent mentioned cheaper tickets.