O's announce plans for Monday's home opener

If you're lucky enough to be coming to the Orioles' home opener on Monday, you'll be interested in a variety of special plans the team announced today.

First, when you come through the gates, you'll receive a 2011 schedule/car magnet, courtesy of Brothers Services. To allow for maximum fan enjoyment, the games for the 3:05 p.m. game will open at noon, and roving musical groups will entertain on Eutaw Street and the main concourse.

Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 2:30 p.m. for special opening day ceremonies. MASN's Jim Hunter will serve as emcee for the pregame festivities, and the O's will continue the time-honored tradition of having players introduced on an orange carpet stretching from the center field warning track toward the infield. Ninety children representing the Maryland National Guard Child & Youth Program will line the orange carpet, holding Orioles flags. Manager Buck Showalter, O's coaches and other team personnel will be introduced from the home dugout.

Earl Weaver, the Hall of Fame manager whose tenure in Baltimore was synonymous with winning, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Showalter. American tenor Richard Troxwell will sing the national anthem - the eighth time he's done so for opening day - and "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch. During the anthem, a 30-by-42-foot flag, a replica of the one that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812, will be unfurled over the batter's eye wall in center field.

The colors will be presented by the U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard, provided by the Military District of Washington, and by the combined honor team of the Baltimore City Police and Fire departments. A flyover by the 104th Fighter Squadron from the Maryland Air National Guard will conclude the anthem.

Fans will notice significant changes at Camden Yards, where the Maryland Stadium Authority has completed the final phase of a seat replacement project. During the winter, MSA repaired concrete and replaced seats in the lower level outfield, club level and upper deck. Club level and upper deck seats are now wider and more comfortable and sightlines have been improved with less-intrusive railings. Fans sitting in and around the upper deck now have equal access and companion seats.

Other ballpark improvements include drink rail seating in portions of the club level, and left and right field lines; 15 field-view bistro tables in left field club sections 282-288; the addition of the Miller Lite Flight Deck, serving fans in the right field club level; and larger club level suites. The capacity of Camden Yards has been reduced to 45,971 from 48,290.

On the lower level concourse, murals and new interior designs have created a more inviting atmosphere and the Home Plate Plaza entrance has been refurbished to include new, granite flooring. Birdland Memories billboards, featuring 13 of the greatest moments in team history, have been placed throughout the lower concourse. 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.

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.

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