The Orioles are letting kids 9 and younger attend games for free

The Orioles have introduced a new program that allows kids 9 and younger to sit in the upper deck for free when an adult purchases a regularly priced upper deck ticket. (AP Photo)

Taking your family to a Major League Baseball game can be expensive. Between tickets, parking, food and beverages, a family of four could easily spend $250 to $300 without breaking a sweat, and that’s not even including merchandise. As MLB tries to hook younger fans on the game, the cost of seeing your favorite team play in person is a huge barrier to fandom.

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The Baltimore Orioles have introduced a new initiative to try and combat that problem and get more families — and kids in general — out to the ballpark. It’s called “Kids Cheer Free.” When an adult buys a regularly priced upper deck ticket at Camden Yards, they can add up to two free upper deck tickets for kids age nine and under. Tickets will be available on a rolling basis throughout the season.

Looking at the numbers, that’s a stellar deal. For example, when the Orioles play the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, April 21, upper deck tickets are priced between $15 and $27. A family of two adults and two kids age 9 and under would save between $30 and $54. And if both adults bought “Kids Cheer Free” tickets, each kid could bring a friend with no extra ticket cost. That’s tangible savings for any baseball-loving family with young kids.

The Orioles already have a robust inventory of kids programs, but they intend to expand them in conjunction with this new program. Kids’ Corner is being revamped with more activities for both younger and older kids, along with new food options and a lounge for parents. Kids aged 4-14 will have the opportunity to run the bases after ever Saturday home game. The O’s are also adding more benefits to their Junior Orioles Dugout Club, and placing a greater emphasis on the family services the already offer at the ballpark, like private nursing rooms, family restrooms, and stroller parking.

One of the biggest expansions is in the concessions department. Ticket savings are great for families, but it doesn’t make the concessions any cheaper to buy. The Orioles already allow families to bring their own food and drink to the ballpark, but now they will offer small, medium, and large portion options at new price points. It’s part of their effort to emphasize fan choice.

It’s hard to imagine a ball club actually lowering the price of tickets and concessions, but that’s essentially what the Orioles are doing, at least in a roundabout way. And taking kids to a real, live baseball game is the best way to turn them into lifelong fans. So good on the Orioles for making it easier for kids to come to games and become baseball fans — and maybe even Orioles fans, too.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher