Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park logo.svg
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2021
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is located in Baltimore
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Location in Baltimore
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is located in Maryland
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Location in Maryland
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is located in the United States
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Location in the United States
Address333 West Camden Street
LocationBaltimore, Maryland
Coordinates39°17′2″N 76°37′18″W / 39.28389°N 76.62167°W / 39.28389; -76.62167Coordinates: 39°17′2″N 76°37′18″W / 39.28389°N 76.62167°W / 39.28389; -76.62167
Public transitMARC train.svg Mainline rail interchange MARC
at Camden Station
BSicon TRAM.svg Light RailLink
at Convention Center
and Camden Station
BSicon SUBWAY.svg Metro SubwayLink
at Lexington Market
and Charles Center
Bus transport MTA Maryland bus:
69, 70, 73, 75
OperatorMaryland Stadium Authority
Capacity48,876[1] (1992–2010)
45,971 (2011–2021)[2] with standing room at least 48,187
44,970 (2022–present)
Record attendance49,828 (July 9, 2005)
Field sizeLeft Field Line – 333 ft (101 m)
Straight Away Left – 384 ft (117 m)
Left Center – 398 ft (121 m)
Deep Left Center – 410 ft (125 m)
Center Field – 400 ft (122 m) (Not posted)
Right Center – 373 ft (114 m)
Right Field Line – 318 ft (97 m)
CamdenYardsDimensions.svg
SurfaceKentucky Blue Grass
Construction
Broke groundJune 28, 1989; 32 years ago (June 28, 1989)
OpenedApril 6, 1992; 30 years ago (April 6, 1992)
Construction costUS$110 million
($212 million in 2021 dollars[3])
ArchitectHOK Sport (now Populous)
Project managerLehrer McGovern and Bovis[4]
Structural engineerBliss & Nyitray, Inc
Services engineerKidde Consultants Inc.[5]
General contractorBarton Malow/Sverdrup/Danobe[6]
Tenants
Baltimore Orioles (MLB) (1992–present)

The Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a ballpark located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the home field of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, and the first of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s.[7] It was completed in 1992 to replace Memorial Stadium.

The park is situated in downtown Baltimore, a few blocks west of the Inner Harbor in the Camden Yards Sports Complex.

History

Construction

Prior to Camden Yards, the predominant design trend of big league ballparks was the symmetrical "multi-purpose stadium". Memorial Stadium, the Orioles' home since they moved from St. Louis in 1954, was an early example of such a design.

In 1984, the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis, in part because Baltimore and Maryland officials refused to commit money for a replacement for Memorial Stadium. Not wanting to risk losing the Orioles—and Baltimore's status as a major-league city in its own right—city and state officials immediately began planning a new park in order to keep them in town.[8]

The master plan was designed by international design firm RTKL. The stadium design was completed by the architectural firm HOK Sport, which had pioneered retro ballparks on the minor league level four years earlier with Pilot Field in Buffalo, New York.

HOK Sport's original design was very similar to the new Comiskey Park. However, at the urging of architectural consultant Janet Marie Smith, the Orioles turned it down, preferring a retro-style park.[9] Smith had been hired by Orioles President and CEO, Larry Lucchino, to represent the team as Orioles VP of Planning and Development in the design of the ballpark.[10] The Baltimore-based firm Ashton Design was brought on to the project to develop the signage, graphics, illustrations and logos that dot the stadium, as well as the 19th-century style clock above the scoreboard.[11] Ashton's vintage designs, which echo the team's turn-of-the-century origins, proved influential, and the firm was called upon to complete similar retro redesigns of Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium.

Construction began in 1989 and lasted 33 months. Former Orioles owner Eli Jacobs favored naming the new field Oriole Park, while then-Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer favored Camden Yards. After considerable debate, a compromise was reached and it was decided that both names were to be used.[12][13]

1992–2008

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1996
Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1996

The first-ever contest at Oriole Park at Camden Yards was a 5–3 preseason exhibition win over the New York Mets before 31,286 on April 3, 1992.[14] The ballpark officially opened three days later on April 6 with Rick Sutcliffe pitching a complete game shutout in a season-opening 2–0 victory over the Cleveland Indians before a sellout crowd of 44,568.[15] Chris Hoiles drove in the first official run at Camden Yards with a ground-rule double that scored Sam Horn in the fifth inning.[16]

Camden Yards hosted the 1993 MLB All-Star Game.

On June 18, 1994, an escalator accident injured 43 people; one of the stadium's multiple-story escalators, overcrowded with fans heading to their upper-deck seats, jerked backward, throwing passengers to the bottom landing. On September 6, 1995, Camden Yards witnessed Cal Ripken Jr.'s record-setting 2,131st consecutive game. Exactly one year later, Eddie Murray blasted his 500th home run there.

Two orange seats stand out from the park's dark green plastic chairs. One, located at Section 96, Row 7, Seat 23 in the right-center field bleachers (officially known as the Eutaw Street Reserve sections), commemorates the spot where Murray's 500th home run landed. The other, Section 86, Row FF, Seat 10 in the left field bleachers, was the landing spot for Ripken's 278th home run as a shortstop, breaking Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks' record for the position. That home run was hit on July 15, 1993. Ripken finished his career with 345 home runs as a shortstop and 431 overall.

The great success of Camden Yards sparked a trend in the construction of more traditional, fan-friendly ballparks in downtown locations across the U.S.[17] By the 2020 season, all of MLB's 30 teams played in baseball-only parks.

Renovations

After the 2008 season, a new HD video display and scoreboard were installed below the right field bleachers. A new, high fidelity sound reinforcement system was added around the ballpark in 2009. The Orioles made numerous improvements to their home ballpark and to their spring training facility, Ed Smith Stadium, before the start of the 2011 season. All seats in the lower seating bowl were replaced and drink rails were added in the club level. Several skyboxes were also eliminated and refurbished to make room for more casual party suites, including the Miller Light Flight Deck. The renovation reduced Oriole Park's capacity from 48,876 to 45,971, making it more comparable with newer ballparks.

During the 2011–12 off-season, the Orioles announced further upgrades to Camden Yards in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the park's opening. These improvements included the expansion of concession food choices, widening of the concourses in the upper deck, the installation of a replica of the B&O Railway Warehouse's original canopy, and the addition of a lounge atop the batter's eye in center field, which had previously been inaccessible to fans. All fans are permitted to access the standing area of the lounge and fans can purchase tickets for drink rail seats. The Orioles also opened Dempsey’s Bar and Grill, named for beloved longtime Orioles catcher and TV broadcaster Rick Dempsey, on the ground level of the warehouse that is open before games and on non-game days. The team also erected cast-bronze statues of all the Oriole Baseball Hall of Famers in the picnic area beyond the bullpens in left-center field.[18] Furthermore, the right field wall was lowered from 25 feet (7.6 m) to 21 feet (6.4 m) to improve the view of the field from Eutaw Street.

Blocked skyline views

In 2007–08 construction started on two large buildings beyond the stadium's outfield walls — a 757-room Hilton Baltimore hotel north of the stadium occupying a two-city-block area and a high-rise apartment building, both completed in 2009—which have blocked views of the city's skyline from most sections of the grandstand. The Baltimore Sun said on April 21, 2008, "There's just a glimpse of the Bromo Seltzer Tower's crenellated top just to the right of the new Hilton Baltimore Convention Center hotel ... something's drastically different at Oriole Park this year ... the sweeping view of downtown Baltimore that fans have enjoyed for the past 16 seasons has changed considerably..."[19] Sportswriter Peter Schmuck complained, "the big, antiseptic convention hotel ... looms over Camden Yards ... [and] has blocked out the best part of the Baltimore skyline".[20] A Washington Post columnist called it a "cruel cubist joke on a previously perfect ballpark", although others said they were pleased with new construction downtown as indicative of urban revitalization.[19]

Changes in field dimensions

In January of 2022, Orioles general manager Mike Elias announced adjustments to Camden Yards' left field dimensions to try to reduce the stadium’s propensity for home runs. The changes — the first to the size of the iconic ballpark’s playing area in two decades — raised the wall's height from 7 feet (2.1 m) to about 13 feet (4.0 m) and moved it back as much as 26+12 feet (8.1 m), according to information provided by the team. The new configuration resulted in the elimination of the first 10 rows of outfield bleacher seats in sections 72-86, resulting in a net reduction of about 1,100 seats. Major League Baseball approved the adjustments, which cover the area from the left-field corner to the bullpens in left-center field.[21]

As of 2020, Camden Yards’ 333-foot (101 m) distance from home plate to the left-field corner was about average for the 30 major league stadiums, though its 364-foot (111 m) distance to left-center was the sixth-shortest in the league. In addition, Oriole Park was one of only eight ballparks with a wall shorter than 8 feet in left and had the shortest wall in left-center field of any venue. The new left-field wall is tied for the sixth-tallest in the majors. The new dimensions to straight away left (384 feet (117 m)) and left-center (398 feet (121 m)) make Oriole Park's left field the most spacious in the American League. However, the salient created by the bullpens results in an unusual sight on a modern baseball field — a reduction in dimensions as one moves from left field toward center field. The left-center field dimension marked to the immediate left of the bullpens is 398 feet, while the left-center field dimension marked on the bullpens' wall is 376 feet. This creates a hypothetical scenario in which a batter could hit a longer non-homerun to left field than homerun to left-center field, if the latter is hit into the bullpens.[22]

The club informed Birdland Members — its version of season-ticket holders — in the affected sections of the changes. Although fans who typically sit in those locations will be farther from the infield and home plate, they will remain as close as they were to the field of play. As part of this process, the orange seat honoring franchise icon Cal Ripken Jr.’s 278th home run to set the MLB record for home runs by a shortstop will be moved and used as part of the Oriole Park Exhibit for the ballpark’s 30th anniversary celebration.[23]

B&O Warehouse

Right field and the former B&O Warehouse
Right field and the former B&O Warehouse
View of the B&O Warehouse and Eutaw Street before a September 2013 game
View of the B&O Warehouse and Eutaw Street before a September 2013 game

The stadium planners incorporated the warehouse into the architecture of the ballpark experience rather than demolish or truncate it. The floors of the warehouse contain offices, service spaces, and a private club. The warehouse has never been hit by a legal home run during regulation play. However, several players have reportedly struck the wall during batting practice,[24] and it was hit by Ken Griffey Jr. during the Home Run Derby associated with the 1993 MLB All-Star Game.

Eutaw Street

Eutaw Street, between the stadium and the warehouse, is closed to vehicular traffic. Along this street, spectators can get a view of the game or visit the many shops and restaurants that line the thoroughfare, including former Oriole star Boog Powell's outdoor barbecue stand. On game days, pedestrians must have a ticket in order to walk on the part of Eutaw Street adjacent to the stadium; however, on non-game days the street is open to all, while access to the stadium is gated. Sections 90–98, called Eutaw Street palace, are located not in the stadium, but adjacent to Eutaw Street, with the seats descending toward the outfield below. If a game sells out, fans may purchase reduced-price "standing-room only" tickets, which entitle them to enter Eutaw Street and watch the game from two designated standing areas (in the left field bullpen area or above the scoreboard in right field).

Many home run balls have landed on Eutaw Street, and the Orioles organization has marked the spots with small baseball-shaped bronze plaques embedded in the street, though it sometimes takes up to a year for each homer to get a plaque. The first home run to reach Eutaw Street was hit by Mickey Tettleton of the Detroit Tigers on April 20, 1992.[25] The most recent home run to land on Eutaw Street was a shot by Anthony Santander of the Orioles on August 24, 2021.[26] As of June 29, 2019, 100 home runs have landed on Eutaw Street in stadium history.[27] The June 29, 2012 game against the Cleveland Indians was only the second time multiple home runs have landed on Eutaw Street in a single game. The first occurrence was during the April 11, 1997 game against the Texas Rangers when Rafael Palmeiro hit two home runs which landed on Eutaw Street. The single season record for home runs landing on Eutaw Street is eight, set in 2008.[28] Major League Baseball's official website, MLB.com, published an updated list of Eutaw Street records on November 19, 2020.[29]

Notable events

The Orioles celebrated the ballpark's 20th anniversary during the 2012 season and launched the website CamdenYards20.com as part of the celebration.[30] Historically, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one of several venues that have carried the "Oriole Park" name for various Baltimore franchises over the years.

Notable games

The Orioles hosting the Chicago White Sox in 1999
The Orioles hosting the Chicago White Sox in 1999

Ballpark firsts

Ballpark First Date Details
First Game April 6, 1992 vs. Cleveland Indians
Ceremonial First Pitch April 6, 1992 President George H. W. Bush
First Pitch April 6, 1992 Rick Sutcliffe, 3:20 p.m. EDT – pitch was a ball
First Batter April 6, 1992 Kenny Lofton, Indians center fielder, flied out to right fielder Joe Orsulak on a 3-2 pitch
First Hit April 6, 1992 Cleveland's first baseman Paul Sorrento, singled to left-center with one out in the top of the second inning
First Orioles Hit April 6, 1992 Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis led off the bottom of the second inning with a single to center
First Run April 6, 1992 In the fifth inning, O's designated hitter Sam Horn walked, went to second base on third baseman Leo Gómez's single and scored on catcher Chris Hoiles' double
First RBI April 6, 1992 Chris Hoiles hit an automatic double (ball bounced over the left-center fence) to score Sam Horn
First Double April 6, 1992 See above.
First Strikeout April 6, 1992 Sutcliffe struck out Cleveland right fielder Mark Whiten in the second inning
First Home Run April 8, 1992 Cleveland's Paul Sorrento (3-run homer)
First Orioles Home Run April 9, 1992 Mike Devereaux, leading off the fourth inning (off Cleveland's Jack Armstrong)
First Stolen Base April 9, 1992 Cleveland's Mark Lewis (against Ben McDonald and Chris Hoiles), third inning
First Grand Slam April 17, 1992 Randy Milligan, seventh inning, off Detroit's Les Lancaster
First Multi-Home Run Game April 17, 1992 Milligan (2), off Detroit's Scott Aldred (one on) and Les Lancaster (grand Slam)
First Triple April 17, 1992 Cal Ripken, 6th inning, vs. Detroit, off Scott Aldred
First Save April 19, 1992 Gregg Olson, vs. Detroit, in a 3–2 victory
First No-Hitter April 4, 2001 Boston's Hideo Nomo, in a 3–0 victory
First Game Played In Front of an Empty Stadium April 29, 2015 First game ever in MLB history to be played at an empty stadium due to concerns about civil unrest in Baltimore after the killing of Freddie Gray in police custody earlier that month. Baltimore prevailed over the Chicago White Sox in an 8–2 victory.

Design and features

Susan Luery's 1996 statue of Babe Ruth, Babe's Dream
Susan Luery's 1996 statue of Babe Ruth, Babe's Dream

Camden Yards was built on land that once served as the rail yard for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Camden Station. The view from much of the park is dominated by the former B&O Warehouse behind the right-field wall. Some seats in the stadium have a good view of the downtown Baltimore skyline.

The bullpen area was designed after many write-in designs were submitted by the public. Its unique two-tiered design was a first in major league parks.

A picnic area is located above and behind the bullpens. Rows of picnic tables covered by orange umbrellas are available for fans to sit and eat. Many trees are located there, too. Many fans at home games view the game from behind the railing behind the bullpens. Until the 2012 season, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network's pre- and post-game shows before Orioles home games were televised in an outdoor studio behind the bullpens. Bronze sculptures of the six Orioles greats whose uniform numbers were retired by the ballclub were unveiled individually in the walking zone of the area behind the bullpens throughout the 2012 season.[18] The statues were created by Antonio Tobias Mendez and cast at the locally based New Arts Foundry.[35]

On the street there is a statue of Babe Ruth entitled, Babe's Dream, created in 1996 by sculptor Susan Luery.[36] In the same courtyard, one will find sculptures indicating the retired jersey numbers of the Baltimore Orioles.

The stadium is the first major league park to have an outfield wall made up entirely of straight wall segments since Ebbets Field. The playing field is 16 feet (4.9 m) below street level. The stadium contains 4,631 club seats and 72 luxury suites. Every seat in the ballpark is green, except for two – one in left field which marks the spot of Cal Ripken's 278th career home run, breaking Ernie Banks' all-time record among shortstops, and one in right field, which marks the spot of Eddie Murray's 500th career home run.

Camden Yards lights spell out GO ORIOLES all throughout the month of September.

Seating capacity

Years Capacity
1992–1996
48,041
1997–2000
48,079
2001–2004
48,190
2005–2010
48,290
2011–2021
45,971

Ballparks influenced by Camden Yards

Main entrance from Russell Street.
Main entrance from Russell Street.

Since its opening day in 1992, Camden Yards was a success and fan favorite. Attendance jumped from an average of 25,722 over the last 10 years of Memorial Stadium's tenure to an average of 43,490 over the first 10 years of Camden Yards' existence.[37] Due to its success, many other cities built traditional-feeling asymmetrical ballparks with modern amenities (such as skyboxes) in a downtown setting. Many of these stadiums, like Camden Yards, incorporate "retro" features in the stadium exteriors as well as interiors; these parks have been dubbed "retro-classic" parks. Other parks, known as "retro-modern" parks, have combined "retro" exteriors with more modern interior elements.

The Orioles hosting the Seattle Mariners on August 1, 2014.
The Orioles hosting the Seattle Mariners on August 1, 2014.

The park also ended a quarter-century trend of multi-purpose stadiums in which baseball and football teams shared the same stadium. Although intended to cut costs, the fundamentally different sizes and shapes of baseball and football fields made this concept fundamentally inadequate for either sport. By the 2012 season, all but two teams played in baseball-only parks.

Retro-classic parks include:

Retro-modern parks include:

LoanDepot Park in Miami (opened in 2012), was the first since Camden Yards not classified as a "retro" park, whether of the classic or modern variety. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria specifically rejected the retro model for the new park, desiring a facility that reflected the 21st-century culture of Miami. Populous, which designed both Camden Yards and LoanDepot Park, was willing to listen; the lead designer for Marlins Park would later say the company was "waiting for a client willing to break the [retro] mold."[38] Stadium planners are labeling LoanDepot Park the first example of contemporary architecture in MLB.

Non-baseball events

Concerts

Date Artist Opening act(s) Tour / Concert name Attendance Revenue Notes
July 26, 2019 Billy Joel Billy Joel in Concert 39,246 / 39,246 $6,013,337 This was the ballpark's first major concert.[39]
June 12, 2022 Paul McCartney Got Back Tour McCartney’s first solo concert in Baltimore and his first time performing in the city since The Beatles came to town in 1964.

Papal Mass

On October 8, 1995, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Camden Yards as part of his visit to Baltimore,[40] one of the most prominent non-baseball events at Camden Yards.

Awards and recognitions

In March 2013, Oriole Park was named the No. 3 ballpark in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.[41]

On May 6, 1992, Oriole Park received the Urban Design Award Of Excellence from the American institute Of Architects.[42]

Attendance

Between 1992–2000, the Orioles averaged more than 40,000 spectators per game, with a total attendance of 3.71 million persons in the 1997 season.[43] Since then, attendance has declined to 1.9 million in the 2009 season.[44] The current single game highest attendance record at Camden Yards is 49,828, set on July 9, 2005 against the Boston Red Sox. On April 9, 2019, the low-attendance mark was set, when just 6,585 fans watched the Orioles play the Oakland Athletics. On April 29, 2015, Camden Yards was practically empty after the riots in Baltimore over Freddie Gray. Only two scouts, one scoreboard display operator, the play-by-play commentators for the teams' radio and television networks, and the players showed up to watch, and official attendance was 0. This marks the first time in MLB history that the public was not permitted to attend a baseball game.[45]

On August 19, 2008, the stadium hosted its 50 millionth fan, a milestone reached in just 17 seasons, the fastest park in baseball history to reach such a figure. Since opening in 1992, Oriole Park has hosted the third-most number of fans in Major League Baseball, exceeded only by Dodger Stadium and the first Yankee Stadium.[46]

Access and transportation

Camden Station adjacent to the ballpark.
Camden Station adjacent to the ballpark.

On the far side of the B&O Warehouse is the present Camden Station, served by both the Baltimore Light RailLink and MARC's Camden Line commuter rail service. The latter rail line provides direct service to Washington, D.C., and the former to BWI Airport. The Light RailLink service began around the time the stadium opened. Nearby Convention Center station also sees heavy traffic during Orioles games; the station is located near the stadium's main entrance.

The stadium is located in downtown Baltimore, near the Inner Harbor. The ballpark, along with the adjacent M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, make up the Camden Yards Sports Complex, though Camden Yards generally refers to only the baseball stadium. The football stadium was not built until 1998, the Ravens' third season in existence. Camden Yards is just a short walk from Babe Ruth's birthplace, which is now a museum. According to some sources, Ruth's father once owned a pub located in what is now center field of the stadium.[47]

In May 2005, a new sports museum, the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, opened in Camden Station. It lasted only 10 years, closing on October 12, 2015.

In popular culture

References

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  3. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
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  23. ^ "Data calls plate-blocking rule change a win for pro baseball players". dx.doi.org. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
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Events and tenants
Preceded by Home of the
Baltimore Orioles

1992 – present
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by Host of the All-Star Game
1993
Succeeded by