Everybody likes a winner: Successful 2012 pays O’s dividends

In 2012, the Orioles had their highest attendance per game in five seasons, due in large part to their position in the standings (Baltimore Sun Photo).

Before the 2012 season, the attendance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards was on a steady decline. Attendance had decreased 11 out of the last 15 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles.

According to Baseball-reference.com, the Orioles drew 2,102,240 fans in 2012, an increase of more than 350,000 fans from 2011. Granted when you divide it up, that’s an increase of just more than 4,600 fans a game.

Kevin Cowherd of the Baltimore Sun criticized the attendance on the night of Aug. 27. In a game where the Orioles trailed the New York Yankees by 3 1/2 games in the AL East — the announced crowd was 10,995.

It’s understandable that after a few years of unexpected success through May, only to collapse in June or July, that O’s fans may have been hesitant to fully invest in the 2012 birds.

However in a game in late August, in one of the most successful seasons in recent memory, you’d think the Orioles would be thriving in terms of fans in the seats. But as it turns out, even the best team in baseball in 2012 struggled late in the season to draw in fans.

Now that the Orioles have shown they can win on the field, will the Charm City fans show they can come to the games? (Getty Images)

In the end, the Orioles attendance figures were up compared to years past, which is good. Maybe not what attendance should’ve been after a 15-year sub-.500 spell. But Camden Yards was sold out for both Game 1 and Game 2 of the ALDS and 2012.

As always, Opening Day at OPaCY should be the first sellout of the season. After that it, it’ll be interesting to see if Baltimore fans make Orioles games the “cool thing to do,” much like the Washington Capitals became the hot ticket after their playoff run in 2008.

The O’s ticket office was not the only place numbers were up in 2012. Merchandise sales increased exponentially especially in Sept.

An ESPN report says that only the Yankees and San Francisco Giants had sold more gear that the Orioles in September. Baltimore had sold 40 percent more merchandise in the first half of September than in the entire month of August.

The Orioles were even popular in December after all the magic stopped.

Chris Korman of the Baltimore Sun believes the success from last season and the continuing rise of young O’s such as Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Dylan Bundy, could allow Oriole merchandise sales to continue to rise this season.

The Orioles open their Spring Training schedule on Feb. 23 against the Minnesota Twins with a 1 o’clock start. The Twins will also be the first opponent hosted by the O’s at Camden Yards on April 5.

In 2012, the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and their attendance reached over two million for the first time since 2007 (Rob Carr/Getty Images).

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