Orioles announce 2018 spring training opening day plans

The Orioles have announced plans for Opening Day of the 2018 Spring Training season on Friday, February 23, when the Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a 2018 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.

In a special pre-game ceremony, the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team, "The Para-Commandos," will parachute in to center field with the ceremonial first pitch ball. President and CEO of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Kevin Cooper will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, while local tenor Jason Ferrante will perform the national anthem before the game.

As part of the Orioles Birdland Community Heroes and Great Americana Weekend program, Sarasota resident Doreen Curp will sing "This Land is Your Land" prior to the seventh-inning stretch. The Orioles are expanding their popular Birdland Community Heroes program this spring by recognizing local community heroes who inspire us through their spirited commitment to extend a hand in charity, service, hope, and harmony at every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday home game. These heroes will be recognized during a ceremony at the conclusion of the fifth inning, with Lt. Sandy Anderson as the first honoree at the spring opener. Lt. Anderson is a 25-year veteran of the Sarasota Fire Department and has been named Firefighter of the Year by several local organizations for her dedication and leadership.

Throughout the season, ballpark gates will open two hours prior to the scheduled first pitch. Season plan members will be able to access the ballpark 15 minutes early through a dedicated entrance at the Home Plate Gate for all 16 home games, including Opening Day.

Opening day timing (gates open at 11:05 a.m.; 10:50 a.m. for season plan members)

10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Orioles Batting Practice

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Rays 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 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET., 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.

As part of Major League Baseball's league-wide initiative, metal detectors are installed at Ed Smith Stadium. Upon entering the ballpark, fans will need to remove their cell phone, keys, and all large metal objects from their pockets before walking through the metal detector. They 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 eight years since the Orioles moved Major League Spring Training to Sarasota, more than 885,000 fans have enjoyed Orioles games at Ed Smith Stadium. An 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.

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