Frankly, hot dogs likely to be plumper Ballpark gets latest concession gizmos

January 19, 1992|By Mark Hyman

When the doors open at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, fans can count on being captivated by the sheer beauty of steel girders and .500 baseball.

When the emotion wears off, they may also notice their hot dogs are moister.

This may not be important to the legions of roasted-peanut munchers. But it's thrilling news for the many fans who consider chomping a hot dog to be a highlight of any evening at the ballpark.

As hot-dog eaters know, the product you buy at the ballpark may be very expensive, but it's rarely very juicy. The problem is the time between when the hot dog is cooked and when it's eaten. The longer the wait, the dryer the dog.

That may not be the case anymore. At the new ballpark, many food stands will be equipped with the latest in hot-dog warming technology. Replacing the old metal boxes will be glass cases in which hot dogs are displayed Automat-style. The customers will have the option of picking the stadium frank behind Door No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3.

The hot dogs will also get nightly steam baths, an unusual perk for deli meat. A pool of steaming water will waft moist air through the warmer, in theory, keeping the stadium franks plump.

ARA Services, the caterer at the new ballpark, hasn't installed the hot-dog warmers yet, but it is working on its 27 food stands. Eventually, the caterers will be installing 3,500 pieces of equipment in the stands, ranging from refrigerators to hot wells (where the nacho cheese is kept).

ARA general manager Jay Boyle says so far only the largest items have been hooked up, including range hoods and sinks. Next week, the counter tops -- some 60 feet long -- begin being put in place, followed by all the machinery that will sit on top of the counters, from deep fryers to bun warmers to the celebrated hot-dog warmers.

The biggest part of the job, said Boyle, "is the logistical problems you have getting 3,500 pieces of equipment in and where they belong."

Last week's cold snap complicated at least one construction job. The tile floors in the two deli bars along the lower concourse were going down as the temperature plunged. Rather than stop working, ARA officials decided to turn on heaters in the deli bars overnight to keep the floors and ceramic tiles warm and to allow the work to continue.

As work continues on the food stands, other projects are moving ahead. This week or next, the ballpark lights will get a fine-tuning. Experts will be at the site to begin focusing each of the 706 bulbs that are on the stadium light standards. Eventually, they will have divided the field into 1-foot-by-1-foot squares, and have measured light intensity in each one.

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