The Baltimore Orioles are returning to Birdland this Friday for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. In anticipation of the return of baseball to Baltimore, let us talk about why this home opener is so big for the city.
How is this year different?
From a sports perspective, this home opener is huge. The O’s return to Baltimore with something they have not had in 17 years: a pennant! Fresh off their first division title since 1997, the O’s are looking to make a statement in the AL East once again. Oriole fans are feeding off the team’s energy, and creating a buzz around baseball not seen in Baltimore for a long time. The team’s 2012 season gave us a glimmer of hope, and while they didn’t make the playoffs in 2013, they did post back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since ’96-’97. Now, after the AL East Title and playoff run of 2014, Oriole fans know that Buck and the Birds mean business. After attending many years of inconsequential opening days that preceded losing seasons, Oriole fans are finally heading to the home opener with high expectations.
What does this mean for the city’s business climate?
It is not just the fans that have high expectations. Baltimore’s business owners are just as excited for the return of baseball. For one thing, baseball season brings the end of the void that opens up after the end of football. From February to April fans are not out and about before and after the game patronizing local restaurants and bars. In addition, out-of-town fans are not booking hotel visits and taking in a game and everything else Baltimore has to offer. Combine this with the cold, and many businesses in the areas around the stadiums see a drop-off in business. But now that baseball’s back, businesses are eager to see things pick up.
This year, business owners are setting their hopes even higher. With the Orioles finally playing winning baseball, businesses are hoping that more fans are going to turn out for home games. Sure, we all loved the O’s, even when they were down, but it is hard to watch losing baseball. Now that the team is in contention again, Baltimore’s bars, restaurants and hotels are anticipating an increase in foot traffic on game day.
If you are attending the home opener, check out some of the specials and events going on before and after the game at local bars and restaurants! Let’s go O’s!
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