Angelos’ Stand Means Blow to Bottom Line for Ballpark Businesses
BALTIMORE (AP) _ To some, the stand by Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos against replacement players represents the moral high ground over the hallowed baseball diamond.
But to the owners of businesses around Oriole Park at Camden Yards and their employees, Angelos’ stand is a blow to the bottom line.
According to state economic officials, fans spend more than $226 million on everything from baseballs to beer and hotel rooms to hot dogs during the 81 home games at Camden Yards each year, resulting in more than $77 million in income for the equivalent of more than 2,300 full-time employees.
You don’t have to tell that to Vince Poist.
The baseball season used to make up 70 percent of his receipts at Pickles Pub, just 150 feet from the ballpark.
``Right now I’m just kind of hanging on, watching the news every day,″ he said. ``I took a big hit last year. We’ve been just kind of scraping by to get through the winter.
``I’m incredibly frustrated about this. I really don’t know what they’re arguing about anymore,″ Poist said.
One of Poist’s bartenders took to the tavern’s roof for 35 days last year to protest the strike and its effect on people who worked in or around baseball stadiums. Eric Cotton got nationwide attention for the stunt and free beer for a time.
But when the season was called, Cotton was out of a job _ and out of about $500 in wages and tips a week. The income he lost from the strike-shortened season forced Cotton to drop out of graduate school for a semester.
The strike’s effect on him has reluctantly turned him against Angelos, the only owner not fielding a replacement team.
Replacement baseball would mean at least some income for people like him, Cotton said.
``I’ve always been one for the dark horse,″ Cotton said. ``But when it affects other people like this, it’s catastrophic.″
At the Stouffer Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, the baseball strike means losing the 50 rooms away teams reserve for the 81 games each season in Baltimore, not to mention the rooms that fans reserve, said General Manager Gary A. Oster.
``All of the major league teams stay at our hotel,″ Oster said. ``It’s pretty depressing to see baseball not playing at the Yard this year.″
Home games also result in millions of dollars in income for the state and the city of Baltimore.
The baseball season generates more than $15.8 million in state and local income from taxes ranging from income to amusement.
The state also draws about $10 million per year in lease payments from the Orioles and a percentage of the team’s take on everything from tickets to skybox rentals, said Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority.
``When they’re doing very well, so are we,″ Hoffman said.
The authority rents out the stadium for other related events.
``We have weddings and bar mitzvahs, and you name it,″ Hoffman said. ``But it certainly does not compare with the revenues when we’ve got baseball.″
For Ted Saffran, ushering at the ballpark has been a hobby of sorts since he started doing so during the first game of the 1966 World Series at Memorial Stadium.
Unlike some of the college students and younger people who work alongside him, Saffran has never depended on the income to survive. But now that he has retired, the ushering income is a cushion he’d like to have, Saffran said.
Monday, Saffran will be playing with his grandchildren instead of showing people to their seats at Camden Yards. But the ballpark won’t be far from his mind.
``It’s the first Monday in April. We should be there,″ Saffran said. ``It’s starting to feel like baseball again and I’m ready to go.″
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