Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened to rave reviews in 1992 and is now viewed as the standard-bearer for the 20 major league ballparks that have opened since that time. As the Orioles prepare to celebrate their 20th season at Camden Yards in 2011, the ballpark is undergoing renovations to the seating bowl designed to keep the facility at the top of its class.
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.
Other ballpark improvements 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.
"This new style of casual seating in select areas will enhance the experience at Oriole Park for fans looking for a more social atmosphere," said Orioles Director of Communications GREG BADER. "These additions, along with new seats throughout the ballpark, are designed to make our fans more comfortable while preserving the Camden Yards aesthetic."
Based on the improvements outlined above and in keeping with trends in baseball, the seating capacity of Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be reduced to 45,971 from 48,290. 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.
These changes are expected to be approved by the Board of Public Works on November 17.