Orioles and concessionaire get fans'-eye view of food plus

September 29, 1991|By Mark Hyman

In civilian life, Andrew D. Levy is a Baltimore lawyer who works in an office several blocks from the new downtown ballpark.

But there are other days and, for Levy, other roles. Yesterday morning he was rolling his wheelchair through the hallways of the unfinished Baltimore Orioles park, offering suggestions about everything from the height of food-stand counter tops to the gentle pitch of exit ramps.

Levy joined a group of about a dozen Orioles fans who looked over the ballpark yesterday as guests of the team and ARA-Martin's, the caterers who feed fans at Memorial Stadium and who will continue next year at the downtown location.

The group did not include chefs or restaurant reviewers. Orioles and ARA officials wanted a sample of fan opinion, so they randomly picked the participants from the stands at Memorial Stadium during Thursday's Orioles doubleheader.

The idea was simple enough.

"We wanted to get more fan input on the concessions aspect," said Roy Sommerhof, the Orioles director of stadium services. "With the stadium not completed, this is a great opportunity. We've gotten some good ideas already."

The tour hosts did not have to coax. The ideas flowed. Greg LaCour, a season-ticket holder for two years, wants a variety of fruit juices on the menu next season. He spoke on behalf of his 3-year-old son Brian, a confirmed juice drinker.

The group held a spirited talk about condiment bars. Should there be more than at Memorial Stadium? How can ARA keep the napkin dispensers stocked beyond the third inning?

Not all the ideas were strictly food-related. When the tour stopped at the new playground area, LaCour, who lives in South Baltimore, had a brainstorm. He asked if the Oriole Bird could schedule a visit to the play area each game so children can be photographed with the team mascot. Orioles officials jotted it down and promised to consider it along with all other ideas they heard yesterday.

In addition to ideas, the tour also generated good feeling. Levy said he'd long harbored doubts about team management. "In the past, one of the great fictions has been that the Orioles organization cared about fans when it only paid lip service," he said.

Yesterday's tour seemed to soften that perception, at least for Levy. As he rolled through the ballpark concourse yesterday, he said, "These people really care about our comments, or so it seems."

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