The Washington Business Journal published an article on December 1st about the Orioles and the city of Baltimore looking to turn Camden Yards into a year-round destination. If you believe what this is saying, there could soon be a “park-like destination” in the centerfield area of the stadium, the second floor of which would be a year-around restaurant.
There area a lot of aspects to this, and a lot of different things in play. Without a doubt, this would provide a great source of income to the city, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and the Orioles on an annual basis. Speaking for myself, I could see heading down to the ballpark for a dinner or two in the off season. On a marketing level, it would also give the Orioles a backdrop to host even in-season events. Could you imagine attending an “official Orioles away-game viewing party?” Assuming that the restaurant is a sports-themed place, one could see how it would probably be a huge revenue-generator on College Football Saturdays and NFL Sundays.
Having said that, the baseball purist in me wonders what this would do to the ambiance of Camden Yards that we know and love. Taken out of context, this sounds like a winning idea. However if you take building the Hilton referenced in the article out of context, that was a great idea also. Having a beautiful Hilton hotel right near the stadium should have a vastly positive affect on commerce when the team’s at home, right? Survey says: yes. However put back into the context of the ballpark, it was a horrible idea. It took away what was a great view of downtown Baltimore. Could whatever they’re proposing worsify that situation?
As you can see (assuming you clicked on the link), the article is vague as to what this would look like, and what it would entail. It simply says that the “destination” would be in the centerfield batter’s eye. I’m extremely proud of the fact that Oriole Park at Camden Yards was such a trend-setter in terms of new ballparks being built. When the Hilton was built there wasn’t much that could be done about that since the Orioles/MSA didn’t own the land. However this would be something that would potentially alter the ballpark itself.
Ultimately everything is about money these days; if the entities involved feel they can turn a decent profit by making these alterations to the ballpark, they’re going to do it. In fairness, Fenway Park has alterations made literally every year and nobody really says anything adverse. If my memory serves me there was a bit of a hulabaloo made when they installed the Green Monster seating some time ago, but I digress.
Personally, I think the ballpark’s fine the way it is. Here’s the other thing; if you put a restaurant in there it would probably take business away from Pickles and Sliders Pubs across the street from the stadium. Many people (myself at times included) hang out there before and after games. I’d hate to see those two local companies’ business suffer due to an in-stadium restaurant. Ultimately whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but some changes to the neighborhood might be coming.
FOllow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala