Just when you were starting to wonder whether the Baltimore Orioles will be racking up as many sellouts as victories next season, here comes some astonishing news:
A few of the most luxurious seats in Oriole Park at Camden Yards still are for sale. Even for Opening Day.
The seats are extra wide. They come equipped with casters, so they can be rolled within easy viewing distance of the coaching ** boxes. They even are stain resistant, in case you unexpectedly overturn a full plate of lobster thermidor.
If you find those features appealing in a baseball seat, come see the Orioles. And bring a check for $55,000, which might be your bill for the first season.
There are 72 luxury suites on the mezzanine level of the new ballpark, of which the team has leased 50 and held onto another 10 to 12 for use by corporate sponsors, political figures and team executives. Two other suites -- including one double room -- will ,, be rented on a per-game basis, leaving roughly eight without tenants for the coming season.
The Orioles began marketing the suites 14 months ago, and initially hoped to sell out by Opening Day of last season. Team officials say they still hope the pricey seats will be gone when the ballpark opens.
"Traditionally, baseball's selling season for tickets, memorabilia, you name it, heats up in February and March, when you start reading baseball in the newspaper every day," said team spokesman Rick Vaughn.
You won't be able to stare at the shirt buttons of Orioles pitchers from any of the remaining suites. All are along the outfield -- three on the first-base line, four on the third-base line -- and have rents of $55,000 or $65,000 per season.
The suites have a balcony with room for 10 to 14 seats and an indoor area equipped with ballpark essentials such as an ice maker. All 72 suites are on a private, enclosed, climate-controlled concourse where guests can use a fax machine or consult with the ballpark concierge. In a pinch, they even can watch the game.
Passers-by on Russell Street can't see much beyond the green tinted windows of the club level. But inside, work is moving rapidly. The ornate tile pattern that will cover most of the concourse has been going down for more than a month and is about 90 percent complete. The solid maple finish work that will frame each suite door has been installed. Inside the suites, walls have gone up and appliances are going in.
Most of the suite holders have gotten a taste of the high life. Recently, the Orioles invited them to one of two finished boxes at the ballpark to make final selections of furniture. According to informed sources, most chose upholstered chairs and couches over the alternate selection, bar stools.