The Orioles announced the game times for their 2020 home schedule on Thursday afternoon, and along with that announcement came a surprise. For Monday-Thursday games before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, the Orioles have changed the standard start time of 7:05 to 6:35.
There will be a total of 16 games that have the times altered as a result of this. Nine of the games will be played in March, April, or May and seven will be played in September. This will end up including the final four home games that the Orioles play in the regular season.
In the release announcing the new start times for these games, Orioles Senior Vice President of Administration and Experience Greg Bader said:
The Orioles are committed to providing the most family-friendly experience in Major League Baseball. The earlier start time for select weekday games is based upon extensive feedback from our fanbase as we continue to explore efforts that can enhance the Oriole Park experience for families, children, and fans of all ages.
The change does seem to be aimed at getting families with children to be able to attend more games on school nights, or perhaps even just to have people watch the Orioles a bit more on TV at home.
I’m skeptical of the notion that it will be a help for getting more people to games because the earlier start time is going to put a different squeeze on the front end for anyone who wants to commute from their job to their house to change into more casual clothes and then go to the ballpark. This is particularly the case for anyone who either lives or works outside of one of the counties that immediately surrounds Baltimore City.
Perhaps the Orioles believe their fans will choose to leave work early to have a family night out, or one working parent might meet the rest of the family downtown rather than have to go home and immediately leave again.
Maybe they’re right. But for my girlfriend and I, 13-game plan people in Montgomery County, we’re probably going to have to switch out tickets if any of our games are in this Monday-Thursday, before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, range. I’m guessing there are fewer people like us than there used to be. And the Orioles will be happy to have us there for more expensive Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games.
With the Orioles having just had back-to-back 100+ loss seasons and with little hope on the immediate horizon for things to be much better than that, these games will probably continue to be poorly attended regardless of whether they start at 6:35 or 7:05. Someone who is showing up for an Orioles-Royals game on Tuesday, April 28 has to really, really want to be there. Maybe there will be a small but noticeable difference even when the team is bad and it will bear more fruit once the Orioles are good some day again.
There are positives whether or not there’s any effect on stadium attendance. If a baseball game starts at 6:35 and tends to go three hours, then games will be over around 9:30 instead of 10. That’s nice for people who have to be up early the next day. Even a sellout probably has more people watching on MASN than it does actually in Camden Yards. So maybe that’s really what it’s all about.
Along with certain games having 6:35 start times, the Orioles also highlighted that nine of the season’s Saturday home games will have 4:05 start times. Including Opening Day, there will be six mid-week day games, plus two more Monday afternoon games for Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Summer night games and Friday night games will remain at the typical time of 7:05, while Sunday home games will continue to begin at 1:05. You can find the start times for each home game, plus all road games whose teams have announced game times, on the Orioles website.
What do you think of the Orioles decision to move some home start times to 6:35?
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I love it
I hate it
I don’t care
I’m not sure yet