MSA performs maintenance on OPACY

There are still well over 100 days until Orioles baseball officially begins in 2010, but Nicole Sherry and her grounds crew haven't been alone inside Oriole Park over the last few weeks of the baseball offseason.

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It's too early for FanFest, let alone ballgames at the Yard, but since I'm lucky enough to have a ballpark-facing office here in the MASNsports.com WebStudio, I couldn't help noticing the hum and I asked Director of Communications Greg Bader what the buzz was all about.

Many of the seats on the lower level between the foul poles have already been removed and the rest of the Camden green in this area will soon follow suit, as MSA performs some routine maintenance on what's now a 17-year-old ballpark.

"This work represents the first phase of a multi-phase deferred maintenance program that the Maryland Stadium Authority has planned," Bader explained.

The concrete in the area between the foul poles on the lower level is being repaired and reinforced and new seats of the same variety as before ("high-back" with cup holders and cushions on the seats between the bases) will be installed before this phase of the maintenance is complete.

Bader said the MSA plans to complete the same maintenance on the lower level outfield seats and all club level and upper level seats in phase two of the maintenance program, which is likely to take place next offseason.

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However, the Orioles are using this opportunity to make one small change to the seats in Oriole Park: It's nothing drastic, and you won't be losing your favorite seat in the Yard, but when maintenance workers return the seats to their rightful places, all rows throughout the ballpark will now be designated with numbers instead of letters.

Since Oriole Park opened in 1992, rows in the ballpark have always been designated by letters.

The switch to numbers when the seats are reinstalled in the final stages of the maintenance work is being made to eliminate confusion for fans who aren't as acutely familiar with the ballpark as some of the Birdland season plan holders who probably know the layout of OPACY by heart.

By parting ways with the original lettering system (with rows such as "AA" or "VVV") and designating seats with numbers, fans will have an easier time discerning just how many rows they are away from the action.

So no need to worry, the O's aren't changing our beloved Oriole Park; MSA is only making sure the O's home at 333 W. Camden Street stays young as the years fly by, and the new numbering system will ideally make the park even easier to roam.

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