By David Ginsburg The Associated Press
BALTIMORE — Fulfilling a child’s request to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is going to be a cheaper at Camden Yards this season.
The Baltimore Orioles have launched a program that will enable kids to attend home games free of charge. Every adult who purchases a regularly-priced upper deck ticket can bring up to two children, age 9 or under.
It is believed to be the first such initiative offered by a major league team.
“That’s pretty cool,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Monday. “Nobody else is doing that.”
The “Kids Cheer Free” program begins for the March 31 game against Minnesota. Tickets are currently available for games through April 29; tickets to remaining games will be made available on a month-by-month basis, as the season progresses.
“Baseball is the bedrock recreational institution in American life, where childhood memories are born and family bonds are forever formed,” said Greg Bader, the team’s vice-president for communications and marketing. “It is our hope that this unprecedented program will bring the magic of Orioles baseball to families from all walks of life and ultimately grow our game.”
Baltimore ranked 23rd in the majors in home attendance last season, attracting 2,028,424 fans ‚Äî down from 2,172,344 in 2016. By letting kids attend games free, the Orioles hope to bring more adults to the park and entice more families to enjoy a day at Camden Yards.
“The Orioles’ mission, and that of the national game of baseball, is to cast a broad community outreach. That effort starts with thoughtfully expanding our initiatives benefiting kids and families,” executive vice-president John Angelos said. “The Orioles are committed to sustaining the access for families from all walks of life to our great game, and that commitment is reflected in the Kids Cheer Free initiative and our many other family-focused programs.”
The Orioles last year allowed kids to run the bases after Sunday games and invited scores of Little League teams to march on the field and meet players before several Sunday games. This season, they have an enhanced Kid’s Corner, which will include an interactive treehouse activity centre, a jungle gym, a moon bounce and Skee-ball.