Baysox are filling their new park

December 22, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

BOWIE -- This time, the Bowie Baysox don't need contingency plans for their home opener.

Unlike last winter, when they had no idea where they would play before landing at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles' Eastern League affiliate knows exactly where its stadium will stand.

"Come April 12, there is no doubt we will be playing baseball here," said Peter Kirk, chairman of the Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, which owns the Baysox and Frederick Keys.

"We will have a playing field, seats, lights and a scoreboard. Some of the finer details may be missing for Opening Day, but we'll be ready to have a game."

With a capacity of 10,000 (8,000 seats and 2,000 positions on the grassy areas), Prince George's County Stadium, at the interchange of routes 50 and 301, will be similar to Frederick's Grove Stadium, but will conform to Triple-A standards. The Baysox are a Double-A team, but Kirk has said he wants to bring a Triple-A team to the area.

"We got over the big hurdle before the rains started, the grading," said Kirk. "It is a huge job because it is a natural amphitheater with no structure under the grandstand. A bowl must be created by the grader."

Concrete is being poured, and the sod for the field will be kept at a Berlin farm until March. The weather will determine whether items like concession stands, the clubhouses, playground areas and the restaurant are ready for Opening Day.

Kirk is anticipating that first-year attendance will exceed the 351,000-plus the Keys drew last season.

Because the front office had only two months for a ticket drive before the 1993 season started, the Baysox averaged slightly more than 4,100 a game in Baltimore.

More than 100,000 tickets have been sold for next summer, and the Founders' Club [a membership that includes reserved seats and other items] is sold out.

Interest has been high in the 18 luxury boxes that will adorn the top deck, 16 (that accommodate 20 people each) at $15,000 annually. The other two will be larger, to accommodate big groups.

Eastern Shore talk

Kirk said, "I think we have a nice window of opportunity" to bring a minor-league team to the Eastern Shore.

"I'm very confident we can bring a Class A team there for the '95 season. We are certainly going to take a run at it. But getting the team is the easy part; getting a ballpark built is something else."

The addition of poultry magnate Frank Perdue, a titan on the Eastern Shore, as a minority owner in Kirk's group has fueled the speculation. But Kirk denied a rumor that he wants to buy the Albany (Ga.) Polecats, the Orioles' club in the Single-A South Atlantic League.

"They're in the second year of a two-year commitment with the Orioles," he said.

Miscellaneous

Despite his hope of landing a Triple-A team in this area, Kirk said he believes Rochester "will get its new stadium," dismissing the idea of a shift of the Red Wings here. "I think common sense will prevail there." . . . The Baysox are operating out of temporary offices in an old elementary school off Route 197, about four miles from the park. . . . Bowie will play in the South when the Eastern League splits into divisions next season. The other members will be Canton-Akron (Indians), Harrisburg (Expos), Reading (Phillies) and Trenton (Tigers). . . . The outfield (x dimensions, 309 feet down the lines and 405 to the deepest part of center field, will be the same as Memorial Stadium's.

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