It doesn't seem possible, but 2011 will mark the Orioles 20th season at Camden Yards. While the team has been horrible on the field (13 consecutive losing seasons dating back to 1997), Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been, from the beginning, a winner.
With low attendance marking the time with the poor play, along with the 20th anniversary, the Orioles announced on Tuesday that OPACY is undergoing renovations to the seating bowl designed to keep the facility competitive.
Currently the Maryland Stadium Authority is currently completing the final phase of the replacement of the seats in the Oriole Park seating bowl as part of their deferred maintenance program. Last off-season, all seats in the lower level from foul pole to foul pole were replaced, along with necessary repairs to the concrete in this area. The work concludes this off-season, as MSA repairs concrete and replaces seats in the lower level outfield, the club level and the upper deck.
At the request of the Orioles the club level and upper deck at Camden Yards will be furnished with wider seats that will be more comfortable for fans. In addition, sightlines for fans on both of those levels will be improved, as new, less intrusive railings will be installed, enhancing the view of those sitting in the first few rows of both levels, as well as fans sitting in and around upper deck equal access and companion seats.
Those changes will lower seating capacity at Camden Yards from the current 48,290 to 45,971, a decrease of 2,319 seats. The decrease should not be felt, at least until the Orioles get back to their winning ways and begin drawing large crowds again. According to Eric Fisher of the SportsBusiness Journal, there has only been 26 times over the last 5 season that the new seating capacity that the ballpark will see has been surpassed.
Recently opened ballparks such as Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (43,651); Citi Field in New York (41,800); Nationals Park in Washington, DC (41,546); Petco Park in San Diego (42,691); and Minnesota’s Target Field (39,504) all have capacities smaller than Oriole Park.
Other improvements to the ballpark include the installation of drink rails in portions of the club level seating bowl down the left field and right field lines, as well as the addition of bistro tables facing the field on the left field club level, thus creating a “viewing deck”. Both locations are ideal for individuals as well as small and large groups.
These changes are expected to be approved by the Board of Public Works on November 17.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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