This week, the blog sent some questions to Greg Bader - Director of Communications of the Baltimore Orioles - as a follow-up to a Q&A we did in mid-January.
The topics touched upon in this Q&A include thoughts on the Orioles first Spring Training in Sarasota, a little bit on what fans should expect at Camden Yards on Opening Day, ballpark improvements, promotions and fan perception.
Now that Spring training for the Orioles in Florida has come to an end, what was the reception and feedback like in Sarasota with the locals? As well, what's in store for fans at Ed Smith Stadium in years to come?Our first spring in Sarasota exceeded all of our expectations, in terms of not only attendance figures, but the way in which the entire community -- its citizens and business and political leaders -- embraced the club as its "home" team. We set an all-time attendance record for the Orioles in our Grapefruit League facility (over 102,000 fans) and this was also the 2nd highest attendance ever in Sarasota, which demonstrates it was the combination of team and community which helped achieve these results. We believe this first year is just the beginning of what will be a mutually beneficial 30-year relationship.
We are hopeful that beginning in the next month construction will begin on the renovations we have planned for the complex. If that happens, the new facility will be ready in time for Spring Training 2011. Artist renderings of the changes are available at Orioles.com if you wish to take a look. The new facility will provide all of the modern amenities fans expect at an MLB game along with the charm of spring training baseball.
Have there been improvements made to Camden Yards during the off-season? Are there any new places, features or things for fans to be informed of heading into Opening Day and 2010?
The major changes involve several maintenance issues that the Maryland Stadium Authority tackled as part of their deferred maintenance program this offseason. One such item was that all of the seats in the lower level from foul pole to foul pole were replaced, with all seats having a high back and cupholders, and seats between the bases having cushioned seats as well.
Several concessions changes have taken place, including the arrival of one of Baltimore's favorites, Attman's Deli, to replace Pastimes Cafe in the Warehouse. Other local businesses such as the Greene Turtle, Hightopps and Pickles Pub will also be featured at various locations inside the park.
On the club level, there was a significant change to the entrance behind home plate, where a large trophy case was installed in the concierge area that will display the various awards and trophies the team has won over the years. Nearby we are opening a market-style dining food option called the All-Star Cafe (where Diamond Bistro used to be).
On that note, Opening Day from what I know is completely sold out. What should fans be looking forward to that day before the game?
Yes, we are sold out and we're looking forward to a packed house to not only cheer on the 2010 team, but also to give our first-pitch honorees, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell, a huge ovation. We suggest that fans are in their seats by 2:30 for the approximately twenty-five minute ceremony which will include the traditional centerfield orange carpet entrance for the team. We will also pay special tribute to the 15 members of the Orioles family who passed away since Opening Day last year, including Mike Cuellar.
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