Come Opening Day, Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be crawling with baseball fans, most of whom will have converged on the new ballpark for a specific reason.
To witness the first pitch ever heaved at the new downtown stadium?
Maybe. But there may be other Opening Day attractions, including this unlikely one: steamed mussels and chorizo in a sweet pepper cilantro broth.
Not all Baltimore Orioles fans will be able to begin a day at the ballpark by lingering over a plate of chorizo (spicy Portuguese sausage to most of us) or even chilled jumbo shrimp with southwestern slaw and tequila lime cocktail sauce, another dish likely to be listed on the menu.
But some will. They will be members of the Camden Club, an exclusive food-and-drink establishment to be located on the top floors -- the seventh and eighth -- of the B&O warehouse.
Life in the Camden Club should be lavish. To join in 1992, a prospective member must be an Orioles season-ticket subscriber. If that condition is met, he or she then pays a $1,000 initiation fee and monthly dues of $45.
That is not all. Members also will be required to ring up a minimum monthly food charge of $35.
Here is the best news, particularly if you have a CD coming due. It is not too late to join. Applications will be mailed soon to the team's season-ticket buyers. Membership will be limited to 375, according to Howard Urick, the ARA official supervising the Camden Club opening.
What do you get for the money? First, use of the sprawling club, which will occupy up to 25,000 square feet in the warehouse or roughly 29 square feet per customer, ample room for diners to cross legs or loosen belt notches. You get nice carpeting, custom-ordered for the job with the Orioles' period "Baltimore Baseball" logo appearing here and there.
Also, members have use of three areas. The seventh floor will be a formal dining room. On the eighth will be a cocktail lounge plus a grill room, where the famished fan can dine on more traditional ballpark fare such as hamburgers, buffalo wings and -- yes -- jumbo shrimp.
The Camden Club won't be the first part of the new ballpark to be completed. It will be closer to the last. Work on the restaurant did not begin until the first week of December and is scheduled to be completed April 3, three days before Opening Day.
If the warehouse club isn't quite your glass of vermouth, but you'd still like an upscale meal, rest easy. ARA also will be throwing a pricey ballpark buffet on the club level, accessible to all private suite and club-seat holders. The rotating menu includes such items as da chi chicken and marinated swordfish salad, yours for $19.95. If you are a child under 12, dine for only $9.95.