The Orioles were in the playoffs this season for the first time since 1997. And, despite a heartbreaking loss and controversial foul ball last Friday, the O’s winning season had a positive economic impact on bars and restaurants in east Baltimore. Both inside the stadium and beyond the walls of Camden Yards, record numbers of people turned out to watch the Orioles play; spending money in the process. Canton and Fell’s Point businesses reported an increase in revenues and volume due to the increased number of fans watching the games and the extended length of the season.
Rick Dempsey, former Orioles MVP and an owner of Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant at Camden Yards, said there was a tremendous amount of excitement around the town this season that will be good for local businesses.
“You draw a lot of people when you get into a pennant race downtown. A lot of the restaurants will flourish from that and they have so far this season.
The fact that the economy had been so poor the last couple of years– we really needed this shot of adrenaline and I think the Orioles have given it to the city,” Dempsey said.
“It’s been spectacular. It reminds me of the days when our group was playing at championships and going to pennant races all the way to the end of the seasons,” he added.
“It’s been pretty damn good here!” Danny Coker, owner of Bartenders in Canton, said in regards to the Orioles playoff series against the Yankees.
Coker said his bar has “100% seen an increase in customers” as a result of the Orioles success this season and the playoff series. Coker said Bartenders was packed during last week’s Orioles games against the Yankees at home, and they were even busier for the away games. People were calling the bar days in advance to see what they were doing for the games, Coker said.
Liz Couvillino, a bartender at Hudson Street Stackhouse, had similar observations. According to Couvillino, long-time employees of the bar said that last Friday night was the busiest they’d ever seen it. Couvillino said it was packed to maximum capacity and that the “shoulder-to-shoulder” crowds were definitely there to watch the Orioles game.
Willy Dely, Social Media Marketing and Events Director at KCR Enterprises, Kooper’s Tavern Inc, Fell’s Point Hospitality Management L.L.C., and Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant, said the season was good for business across the board. Working for a number of restaurants in Fell’s Point, Dely was able to witness the effects of the ‘Orioles Magic’ in a number of establishments.
“It was great for business, definitely…especially when they were out of town,” Dely said, adding that both Kooper’s Tavern and Slainte were packed on Friday night.
One benefit to catering to baseball crowds, Dely noted, is that the games last three to four hours.
“That means people are staying and spending money for three or four hours,” Dely said.
What Dely enjoyed most about the season was seeing the fans engrossed in the game. Dely said it was amazing to see the fans’ reactions this season, noting that O’s fans aren’t fair-weather fans, and that most of them have been waiting 15 years for a season like this.
“Usually on weekends in October the customers are wearing purple, showing their support for the Ravens,” Dely said. This year, however, “There’s a lot of orange.”
Fans and businesses of Baltimore are hopeful that the Orioles will have another winning season next year. The Orioles in the World Series is something the city of Baltimore hasn’t experienced since they won it in 1983.
By Leslie Spacek
Special to the Baltimore Guide