A Baltimore Orioles official has confirmed that the Orioles will not host their annual FanFest this winter. The move comes as Mike Elias continues the complete redo of the Orioles organization.
FanFest has been an Orioles tradition for 30 years. The first FanFest took place in 1989, which also happened to be the year after a 54 win campaign. Since then, the annual gathering of players and fans has hosted player panels, autograph sessions, photo opportunities, and more. During the event’s peak, from 2013-2016, FanFest regularly drew 15,000 fans. Recently, with a lack of star players, attendance has taken a hit. In 2018, Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado skipped the event, something that was unheard of at the time.
New Leadership = New Direction
The Orioles have new senior leadership on the business side of the organization that is analyzing all aspects of the team. The new leadership feels that FanFest has become stale. Team executives have stated that they are looking into new, more creative ways to interact with fans. As of this time nothing has been announced.
The shelving of the event is one of a number off-the-field changes that have been made during Mike Elias’ first year. In August, Elias dismissed Director of Baseball Operations Tripp Norton and 10 members of their scouting department. Three weeks later the team declined to renew the contracts of 14 staffers in player development and scouting. The names of some of those let go were surprising to Orioles fans. Former players and long time staffers B.J. Surhoff, Brady Anderson, Ryan Minor and Scott McGregor were among those shown the door by Elias.
Change is hard and patience is a virtue, especially for a team that is starting from the bottom. The question remains, will it all be worth it?
Author Twitter: @el_travs
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