You already knew that the Orioles would honor their six members of the Baseball Hall of Fame with statues in a newly configured picnic area in center field at Camden Yards. We told you so last month, right here on Orioles Buzz.
But today, the Orioles announced a slew of other improvements to Camden Yards, with an eye toward enhancing the fan experience at the ballpark that has been often imitated but never duplicated. You can read all about the changes that will be implemented for the 2012 season here.
There's always a risk when you change things up at a venue which has become a treasured institution. But that's part of keeping the experience of attending a game at Camden Yards fresh and new. And I like a lot of what the O's have described in terms of the work now being done around the ballpark.
My favorite? That's easy.
I can't wait to saddle up to a table at the new outfield overlook on the batter's eye in center field. It'll be the perfect place to quaff a frosty adult beverage while getting a different perspective of the game. If you've been lucky enough to catch game action from Harry the K's at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the space originally occupied by Outback at PNC Park in Pittsburgh or Friday's Front Row at Chase Field in Phoenix, you know what I'm talking about. Friends, food, a beverage - you can't beat the sightlines, either! Think of it as a new look at the field you're used to seeing, only from a place that used to be off limits. Think of it as Charm City's version of the Green Monster seats atop the left field wall at Fenway Park, minus the hike and height.
You can be sure the dedications of the statues honoring Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. will be must-have tickets during the 2012 season. As expected, each statue will be unveiled on a different day - look for a schedule to be released next month - and the excitement will build for the first look at each bronze likeness. Maryland sculptor Antonio Tobias "Toby" Mendez has done a lot of baseball work before, having created statues of Nolan Ryan and Red Sox teammates Ted WIlliams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio. It'll be interesting to see his take on the Orioles greats.
New flooring, new concessions options, new canopies over the Eutaw Street potable food and drink vendors - see the theme here? The out-of-town scoreboard in right field will be modified to reduce the height of the wall and improve views of the game. Upper deck concessions will get new food service equipment, just as the lower deck concessions got last year.
Hard to believe Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be turning 20. Seems like only yesterday we were watching Rick Sutcliffe spin a masterpiece as the ballpark debuted. Two decades ago, the stadium set a standard; now its renovations and improvements are making a good thing a little bit better.