It's time to get busy in warehouse -- and maybe get a peek at game

NEXT-BEST THING TO BEING THERE

April 07, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Patrick Mahan didn't have a ticket to the Orioles' home opener yesterday, but he may have had the next-best thing.

For much of the game, he had a clear view of the action from a spot on the seventh floor of the long B&O warehouse that serves as a backdrop for right field.

Mahan is one of several dozen waiters at the Camden Club, the posh, members-only restaurant and lounge that occupies the seventh and eighth levels of the 1,016-foot-long warehouse. Before and after the game, the restaurant was full of patrons. But during the game, when most people were in their seats in the stands, staffers were allowed to take a break and watch the action from the windows of the warehouse.

"We literally have season tickets," Mahan said, referring to his view down the right-field line. "It's one of the main attractions of this job."

"It's like having our own sky box," said Wayne Simonsen, another Camden Club waiter.

The Camden Club is one of many places in the warehouse that will be busy before, during and after the Orioles games this season -- and throughout the rest of the year as well.

Hailed as one of baseball's most unusual architectural features since the Green Monster in Fenway Park, the many-windowed warehouse was more like a department store yesterday, with something different happening on just about every level.

ARA Leisure Services runs the restaurant on levels 7 and 8 and a banquet hall capable of handling up to 1,200 people at a time on Level 6. Orioles owner Eli Jacobs has private suites on Level 5, and the main kitchen for the ballpark's club level is on the fourth floor. The Orioles' offices are on levels 3 and 2. And the first floor houses a variety of retail operations run by ARA, including Bambino's Pub, Pasttimes Cafe and the Orioles Baseball Store.

Throughout the game, the Orioles store was mobbed with fans seeking Opening Day souvenirs.

Manager Ray Moran said the store sold out of commemorative programs and more than 2,000 baseballs marked "Opening Day 1992," at $15 apiece. Other brisk sellers, he said, were buttons, pennants, T-shirts, hats and pins. "Sales have been non-stop since we opened," he said.

More than a few people complained about the lack of programs. "You at least want to get something to take home," said Joseph Johnson, 23, of Elkton. "You see people walking around with 50 under their arms, but we can't get one."

"The problem is that we had a lot of people buying 20 or 30 at a time, and you can never foresee that," Moran said.

The Orioles reception area, on the second floor of the warehouse, was the destination for people who needed assistance with ticket snafus or locating someone at the ballpark. But there weren't too many emergencies after the first few innings.

Unlike the waiters who got a break during the game, the Orioles' switchboard operators didn't get much chance to rest. "Is there a game going on?" asked operator Vanessa Sandler.

In addition to the warehouse windows, many of the public spaces have TV monitors so people can keep track of the game while they're eating or shopping. One of the few places that didn't have a TV was the elevator, which was no fun for operator Lebro "Casey" Casagrande.

"Any score?" he asked people as they got on his elevator. "Did they score yet?"

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