It doesn't seem like it's been this long, but the ballpark that set the trend for design over the last two decades is about to have a milestone birthday
As the Baltimore Orioles prepare to celebrate their 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2011, the ballpark has undergone numerous renovations designed to keep the facility more than up to par with its younger siblings, while also preserving the iconic look and feel that made the ballpark the standard-bearer for the 20 major league ballparks that have opened since that time.
Renovations primarily focused on the seating bowl, club level, lower concourse and concessions areas.
This past off-season, the Maryland Stadium Authority completed the final phase of the replacement of the seats in the Oriole Park seating bowl as part of their deferred maintenance program. During the 2009 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 concluded this past winter, as MSA repaired concrete and replaced seats in the lower level outfield, as well as on the entire club level and upper deck.
At the request of the Orioles, the club level and upper deck at Camden Yards were furnished with wider seats that are more comfortable for fans. In addition, sightlines for fans on both of those levels are improved, as new, less intrusive railings enhance 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.
Other ballpark improvements include drink rail seating in portions of the club level down the left field and right field lines to accommodate more than 100 fans. In addition, 15 field-view bistro tables, each seating four fans, have been installed in the left field club level in sections 282-288.
The Miller Lite Flite Deck, serving 90 fans, has been added to the right field club level, and several single-occupancy day-of-game suites have been combined to form larger club suites. These new seating options are designed to provide a more casual, social environment for fans to enjoy their in-park experience.
Based on the improvements outlined above and in keeping with trends in baseball, the seating capacity of Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been reduced to 45,971 from 48,290.
LOWER LEVEL CONCOURSE
On the lower level concourse, murals and new interior designs will create a more inviting atmosphere for fans. The Home Plate Plaza lobby entrance, located between Gates D and E, has been refurbished, including new granite tile flooring.
Birdland Memories billboards, featuring 13 of the greatest moments and accomplishments in Orioles history, have been placed throughout the lower concourse. Such memories include celebrations of the three World Series Championships, Cal Ripken’s record-setting 2131 game, and the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
A series of graphics featuring the lyrics to many of the songs that are a part of Orioles history, including “Orioles Magic” and “Pennant Fever,” have been displayed throughout several ballpark stairwells.
The Orioles and new concessions and retail operator Delaware North Sportservice have collaborated on an $11 million project to redesign and enhance the food and beverage stands at the ballpark, the first effort of this magnitude since Camden Yards opened in 1992. As part of the investment, new concessions-related technology has been added, including a point-of-sale system that will allow for “belly-up” style service, enhancing customer service and shortening wait times.
New grills and other equipment have also been added so that a wider variety of food items can be prepared fresh in front of fans.
Concessions stands have undergone a significant re-branding and makeover, including new stand names, graphics and food and beverage offerings. The newly re-branded concessions stands include:
- O What a Dog
- Baltimore Chop House
- Das Sausage Haus
- Baseline Burgers
- By the Slice Pizza
More permanent kiosks have also been added to the concourse areas to allow for a greater variety of food and beverage offerings, including Old Bay Seafood and Polock Johnny’s Famous Polish Sausage.
The renovations include three new bars and restaurants at Camden Yards:
Café 54, named in honor of the year Major League Baseball returned to Baltimore, will be located on the south end of Eutaw Street
Natty Boh Bar, featuring National Bohemian beer and “early bird” specials, will be found on the first base side of the lower concourse
Free State Pub, featuring local Maryland and regional craft and specialty beers, will be located on the third base side of the lower concourse
In addition to the newly improved Orioles Official Team Store on Eutaw Street, two more retail locations have been added: a Brand 47 Orioles Store on the first base side of the lower concourse and an Orioles T-shirt Shop, featuring customizable t-shirts, on the third base side of lower concourse.
Source: Baltimore Orioles
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