Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking Back at FanFest

I had a really great and successful time at FanFest and feel like that point came across pretty well in my recap post on Saturday.

However, I did have somewhat of an issue with the way the autograph stations were set up this year. If you have never been to an O's FanFest in the past, what they always did was to hand out a schedule of who was signing when and where to everyone as they arrived. That way you were able to plan out your day depending on whose autograph you were trying to get. For someone that was looking for specific players, that worked the best for me. This was how it had been done as far back as I remember; I definitely remember getting Cal's autograph that way at a FanFest in the mid-90s.

The only downfall to how it was done in the past is that everyone signed during the same 2 hour window. So if you wanted Cal, and the other two or three players at his station, then that's pretty much all you were going to get.

This year, no schedule was announced ahead of time. There were four separate autograph stations (all with an A & B line) and it was announced one hour ahead of time as to who would be at each station, with each line being limited to 250 people. For example at Station 1, 3 or 4 players would sign from 11-12 in the A line and then 3 or 4 would sign from 12-1 in the B line. This was done to try to avoid a throng of people congregating at the stations at any specific time for the fan favorites like B-Rob, Markakis and Wieters. But by early afternoon, people were lining up at each station long before it was even announced as to who was going to sign there hoping that it was someone they wanted. So the system had pretty well fallen apart halfway through FanFest. For those of you who went, what were your thoughts on this system?

At the very least, they should have let the people who lined up in anticipation of who might sign at the stations to enter the queues. For example, as the people who lined up for the noon signing in the B line emptied that queue, the other people who lined up for the 2 o'clock signing in the B line were not allowed to enter the queue until the signers were announced. The people pretty much just created their own lines that made navigating through the crowd a challenge while the B line was nearly empty. It seemed pretty silly to me.

Have I lost anyone yet?!? I know this will be a confusing post if you didn't attend FanFest.

On a positive note, congratulations to the Orioles for attracting over 12,000 fans!! That's encouraging since many people this town normally ignore the O's in favor of the Ravens. Now I hope to see everyone from FanFest at the Yard over the summer. Go O's! Orioles Magic!


Matthew said...

Man, do I ever agree with you. If you were going to get a spot anywhere in the first half of a line, you'd have to start waiting a full two hours before the session started. After standing around in one "pre-line" for about 20 minutes, unsure of what I was waiting for, I decided to just forget about the autographs.

The photo booth to benefit Haiti was cool, though. I got my picture taken with Luke Scott for a measly $5 and waited less than 10 minutes. Luke was really cool, too. He thought he blinked during the shot, so he made the photographer take it over again.

This was my first FanFest, and I had a blast. The free club house tour alone was worth the trip down.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind the setup for this year really. I feel like it gave everyone a pretty good chance to get at least one of the big four (Cakes, Wieters, BRob, Jones) if you attended multiple lines throughout the day. A few times while I was waiting in the line before they announced who was signing, I watched the board when they updated it on the hour, and hustled to a different station with a better trio in time to still make it within the 250 people. However, for people like you who have most of the guys who were signing, it must be frustrating not knowing who you're going to get and possibly wasting your time.

zman40 said...

Royals Fanfest was very similar. There was three tables set up with an autograph session every other hour (four total for the day I went). Only 200-250 people were let in during a session. Most of the workers there were volunteers and didn't know who was signing where. Eventually, I found a worker with a schedule and I would pay him a few visits during the second half.

So, you would basically stand in line for a session, get your stuff signed, and then head over to another line where the autographs wouldn't begin for an hour and an half. It was basically like that all day long.

My dad even got into an argument with two of the vounteers because he couldn't tell where one line ended and the next one began. He won the argument and we both got a George Brett autograph.

Like I probably told you before, last years Royals Fanfest was ran much better that this years. I feel like I've been saying this for a decade with the Royals and now I can say it about their Fanfest- there's always next year!

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

Matthew- I'm glad that you had a good time overall. It will be interesting to see how things might change by next year.

Aaron- I agree that people were definitely given a chance to get one of the major guys, but it complicates things for people like me who were trying to get specific, lesser players.

Zach-there were a lot of volunteers working at the O's FanFest too. It makes things frustrating at times when the workers know as much or less than the fans did. I'm glad that you both were able to get a George Brett autograph though!