O's Fans Can Take Their Support On The Road
By Tim Richardson
Merchandise is big business and a major outlet for professional sports teams to promote their product. According to a 2011 report by the Emerson College Sports Business Society, merchandise sales accounted for more than $12 billion of total revenue for professional sports teams in the United States and Canada.
The Orioles are enjoying a hot start to the 2012 season and fans are embracing the team. Many of those fans show their support by purchasing Orioles jerseys, caps, T-shirts and even big orange No. 1 foam fingers.
Thanks to the Orioles and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Association (MVA), fans can now show their team pride in a way that also benefits a good cause. While many fans have Orioles magnets on their cars, the club announced recently that it had joined with the MVA to create Orioles-themed Maryland license plates.
The new cartoon bird is on each plate, and each buyer receives a randomly assigned four-digit number. The plates cost $50, with $25 going to the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation. The $50 charge is a one-time fee when purchasing the plates.
"We are excited to provide Orioles fans in Maryland with the opportunity to share their Birdland pride and help out a great cause with the new cartoon bird license plates," said Greg Bader, Orioles director of communications.
Featuring the popular cartoon logo, the plate enables fans to show their Orioles pride, while supporting the community programs OriolesREACH funds and supports. According to the team's Web site, OriolesREACH allows the organization to "reach out to our neighbors across Birdland to help our fans improve their daily lives." In 2011 alone, more than 30 different community organizations benefited from the efforts of the charity.
The Orioles held a sweepstakes for a chance to win plate No. 0001. In addition, plates featuring the numbers of three Orioles star players (Adam Jones, No. 0010; Nick Markakis, No. 0021; and Matt Wieters, No. 0032) were auctioned for charity. The auction also included six other plates with the numbers of the team's six Hall of Famers: No. 0004 (Earl Weaver), No. 0005 (Brooks Robinson), No. 0008 (Cal Ripken), No. 0020 (Frank Robinson), No. 0022 (Jim Palmer) and No. 0033 (Eddie Murray).
As required by the MVA, the plates must be used on a vehicle registered in Maryland. The auction closed April 17 and Bader said the nine specialty-numbered plates raised more than $8,000 for the Orioles' Charitable Foundation. The plate for "Mr. Oriole," Brooks Robinson (No. 0005), raised the most individual money, selling for more than $2,000. The team has notified all auction winners as well as the sweepstakes winner.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," Bader said, "and we look forward to seeing many of these (plates) on the streets in the coming weeks."
Fans can visit orioles.com/plates or call 888-848-BIRD (ext. 2473) for information on how to register for the Orioles' specialty plates.
Posted May 8, 2012