Orioles announce 2017 spring training opening day plans

The Orioles have announced plans for Opening Day of the 2017 Spring Training season on Sunday, February 26, when the Orioles host the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a 2017 Spring Training schedule magnet, sponsored by Visit Sarasota. Additionally, the first 1,000 female fans in attendance will receive a Birds of Paradise flower, courtesy of Beneva Flowers.

Athletic Director of Sarasota County Middle Schools Bethany King will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, while Sarasota Middle School seventh-grade student Michelle DiPuma will perform the national anthem before the game and “God Bless America” prior to the seventh-inning stretch. DiPuma participated in the Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge, a curriculum for Sarasota County middle schools that promotes healthy lifestyles. The Sarasota Military Academy Cadet Color Guard will present the colors before the game.

During pre-game ceremonies, each club’s manager and starters will be introduced and recognized along the first and third base foul lines. Reserve players and uniformed personnel will join the starters along both foul lines. Additionally, students from each participating school in the Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge will be introduced along with the Orioles starters and stand with them for the national anthem.

Throughout the season, ballpark gates will open two hours prior to the scheduled first pitch. Season plan holders will be able to access the ballpark 15 minutes early through a dedicated entrance at the Home Plate Gate for all 17 home games, including Opening Day.

OPENING DAY TIMING (GATES OPEN AT 11:05 a.m.; 10:50 a.m. for season plan holders)

10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Orioles Batting Practice
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Pirates Batting Practice
1:05 p.m. - Play ball!

Tickets for the Orioles Spring Training home opener are still available and can be purchased at the ticket box office at Ed Smith Stadium from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., online at www.orioles.com/spring, or by phone at 877-222-2802.

BALLPARK POLICIES

The Orioles have one of the most fan-friendly food policies in professional sports. Outside food and beverages may be brought into Ed Smith Stadium, subject to the following guidelines:

* Soft-sided and paper bags are permitted at Ed Smith Stadium, as long as they fit into a 16” x 16” x 8” container. Hard-sided coolers, thermoses, glass bottles, cans, or alcoholic beverages are not permitted into the ballpark.

* Non-alcoholic beverages in plastic bottles are permitted into the park. All items will be checked at the gates and any beverage that has been opened or partially consumed prior to entry is subject to confiscation if it is thought to contain alcohol. Additionally, no plastic or paper cups of beverages are permitted into the park at the entry gates.

* All items permitted into the ballpark will be inspected. No bags or items exceeding the maximum size of 16” x 16” x 8” are allowed into the ballpark.

* No containers or unauthorized items can be left at any park entrance.

New in 2017, as part of Major League Baseball’s league-wide initiative, metal detectors will be installed at Ed Smith Stadium. The initiative is in place to standardize security procedures at each Major League ballpark. Upon entering Ed Smith Stadium, fans will need to remove their cell phone, keys, and all large metal objects from their pockets before walking through the metal detector. Items can be retrieved immediately after entering. Fans are advised to allow themselves plenty of time for entry.

No re-entry will be permitted once a fan has entered the ballpark gates. Vehicles transporting guests with special needs or disabilities are permitted to utilize the East Lot for this purpose. No vehicles are permitted to park curbside, nor are people able to stand and wait with vehicles.

In the seven years since the Orioles moved Major League Spring Training to Sarasota, more than 765,000 fans have enjoyed Orioles games at Ed Smith Stadium. A recent independent analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government concluded that the Orioles generate approximately $89 million in annual economic impact back to taxpayers and residents. By marketing Sarasota to fans in the Mid-Atlantic region, operating a year-round athletic training facility, producing entertainment and sporting events, partnering with charitable causes, and hosting and often subsidizing youth sports tournaments and activities, the Orioles demonstrate an abiding commitment to their Florida home that goes far beyond baseball. For details, visit www.orioles.com/Sarasota.