Some Orioles offices will come with a view B&O warehouse overlooks stadium

December 01, 1991|By Mark Hyman

The B&O warehouse still is an architectural weirdo -- 1,116 feet long and a mere 50 feet wide, give or take a brick.

It still is the most imposing building on the Inner Harbor skyline, surpassing even the new Polack Johnny's carryout.

But something new and remarkably dusty is going on inside the ancient railroad warehouse, which stands just beyond the right-field wall of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Slowly, workmen are turning the eight-story building into the future Baltimore Orioles executive offices. This is more than a big job: It is a sacred one. Workers on this crew may be telling their grandchildren they installed general manager Roland Hemond's baseboard heater.

Three years ago, the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority jointly decided to preserve -- rather than demolish -- the historic railroad building. As part of the deal, the Orioles agreed to use the warehouse as offices. Work on the interior of the building initially lagged well behind construction of the ballpark itself. Now it is humming.

The Orioles' offices mostly will be confined mostly to the second and third floors. But the most important office for most Orioles fans will be on the ground floor, in an L-shape configuration that straddles the north and east sides.

It is the team ticket office and advance-ticket windows. The full complement of 16 ticket windows already has been cut into the (( brick facade. Two are cut lower to accommodate handicapped fans.

The Orioles will occupy the entire length of the building -- both the north and south ends -- on only one floor, the second. This is the place to come if you want to sponsor Squeeze Bottle Day next season -- the team's marketing department will be located there, along with offices for stadium operations and public relations, among others.

The third floor is for high-ranking team officials, meaning the people who usually are interviewed on TV when the manager is fired. President Larry Lucchino, Hemond and player personnel director Doug Melvin are on this floor. So is a former Orioles manager, assistant general manager Frank Robinson.

Lucchino's office is on the west side of the building. He will be pleased by that -- no, he will be thrilled. Offices on the west side will have a full view of the playing field. On the upper floors, it will be breathtaking.

Offices on the eastside are not awful. They look out on the National Aquarium, Otterbein and downtown gridlock. But if you had a choice, you'd choose a ballpark view.

Janet Marie Smith, the Orioles' vice president for planning and development, is the team official who had a lot to do with deciding who sees second base and who breathes carbon monoxide fumes. She said the issue resulted in few fistfights.

"It's a tough issue. We've got two sides of the building. We just had to do the things that worked the best," said Smith, who apparently did not have the final vote because her office will not look out on the field.

The Orioles expect to move into their new offices in mid-March and to complete the packing, loading and unpacking in a whirlwind weekend.

One more thing. The Orioles say they are using a local mover -- but not Mayflower, official packer-upper for the Indianapolis Colts.

As warehouse work moves ahead, other parts of the project are progressing. Focusing of the ballpark lights probably will begin this month or next. This could take as long as a month: It involves up to three people, including one who stands on the field and measures light intensity in each 1-foot-by-1-foot square.

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