On Opening Day, fans to receive instant memento Stadium Update

TICKET TO HISTORY

March 15, 1992|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

The new color-coding system for Orioles tickets was reported incorrectly in The Sun last Sunday. Tickets with orange borders will be used for the upper and lower decks. Fans whose tickets lTC have green borders will have privileges on the club level.

The Sun regrets the error.

With Opening Day just three weeks away, this may be the ideal moment to begin pondering one of the most important questions facing any baseball fan of the 1990s.

Which timeless and, in time, priceless, mementos will you be taking away from the historic first game at the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Will it be a limited edition Opening Day pennant or pin, each available at your nearest ballpark souvenir stand? An attractive T-shirt imprinted with the day, month and year of the inaugural opener? For fans of stadium cuisine, how about a souvenir hot dog?

The Orioles are offering memorabilia hunters yet another choice. And this one costs nothing more than the price of a ticket. Actually, it is a ticket.

The roughly 48,000 fans fortunate enough to attend the April 6 opener each will enter the new ballpark that afternoon with a slightly oversized ticket that figures to become an instant collectors item.

Tickets for Opening Day are expected to go into the mail this week, said Audrey Brown, Orioles ticket manager. By that time, many season-ticket customers already should have received their tickets for home games two through 81.

Brown said tickets for Opening Day are being mailed separately to eliminate the headache of trying to collate by customer the oversized ticket with those for later games.

"It just made sense to do it separately, for the fans and for us," Brown said.

By an inch, the Opening Day tickets are wider and longer than those that will be issued for the rest of the home schedule. They also are individually printed -- rather than computer-stamped -- showing the ticket holder's section, row and seat location.

The souvenir ticket's design also is notable, in part, for what it is not -- a rectangle. The first-game passes feature the new diamond-shaped Oriole Park at Camden Yards logo, which protrudes from the top edge about a half-inch. Meanwhile, the reverse of the ticket offers general manager Roland Hemond's signature, the usual warnings about foul balls and an offbeat Coca-Cola advertisement -- a Coke bottle cap superimposed over a funky baseball diamond.

To ensure that fans get to take home all 7 inches of their Opening Day souvenirs, the Orioles have instructed attendants staffing gates to inspect tickets but to refrain from ripping them, as is the normal practice.

In undertaking the Opening Day ticket project, the Orioles followed the lead of several teams that have printed similar souvenirs, including the Chicago White Sox, who opened the new Comiskey Park last season.

"We've been impressed with the fact that other clubs have printed special tickets for important occasions," said Janet Marie Smith, Orioles vice president and one of the team's chief ballpark planners.

In the Orioles' case, the redesign goes beyond Opening Day. Tickets to individual games will be pretty much the same as last year's -- computer-generated and generally uninspired. However, those bought as parts of 13-, 29- or 81-game plans will feature not only the new ballpark logo, but also colored borders that will help ushers direct fans to the proper stadium levels.

Customers seated in the lower or upper decks will have tickets accented with Camden green, the official ballpark paint chip. Those with privileges on the exclusive club level -- either private-suite guests or the club-level ticket holders -- will be receiving tickets with burnt-orange borders.

If the system works as planned, fans who have purchased $4 bleacher seats would be unlikely to wander unescorted into the land of fax machines and gourmet meals.

"It certainly makes it easier for ushers and ticket-takers to identify where a seat is," Smith said.

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