Despite five straight losing seasons and a resulting decline in attendance, the Baltimore Orioles are planning to raise prices for some premium individual tickets this season.
The increases, which are scheduled to be announced Tuesday, will apply only to the most expensive individual game tickets, primarily those closest to the field between the bases and in the club level -- fewer than 1,000 tickets per game. Season ticket prices and other individual ticket prices will remain the same.
"These seats are in the premium part of the ballpark and will not affect season ticket prices," said Matthew Dryer, Orioles director of ticket sales. "It helps us make a little extra revenue and rewards our regular season ticket holders."
Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos did not return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday, and team vice chairman and chief operating officer Joe Foss was out of the office and could not be reached.
The Orioles had an average ticket price of $18.23 in 2002, just below baseball's overall average of $18.30, according to Team Marketing Report. The Orioles did not raise ticket prices following the 1998, 1999 or 2000 seasons, and a year ago the team raised some prices while lowering others.
The Orioles' total attendance of 2.68 million last season was the lowest in a non-strike-shortened season since the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992, and represented a 14 percent drop from 2001. The team has finished fourth in the American League East for the past five seasons.
Orioles Notes: The Orioles have ended their pursuit of free agent outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie said.
"We put down our final offer and [Cruz] didn't take it," Beattie said. "We wanted to expedite the process and get something done, and they weren't interested in our dollars."
Cruz, 27, made $3.95 million last year and was due a raise in 2003, but the Toronto Blue Jays did not offer him arbitration, making him a free agent.
With the free agent market plummeting, Cruz almost certainly will take a pay cut. The Orioles' final offer to him was believed to be for around $2 million.
The Orioles have little choice now but to scour for trade possibilities as a way of solving their need for a power hitter, a process that could go well into spring training.
"There are some good opportunities out there for trades," Beattie said. "We want to maintain flexibility as we go into spring training."