Angelos drops his plan to add 10,000 seats

April 20, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who talked of expanding Camden Yards by as many as 10,000 seats earlier this year, now says he doubts many more than a few hundred seats could be added without detracting from the ballpark's old-fashioned charm.

"Adding a substantial number apparently can't be done without disturbing the aesthetics of the ballpark, and we have no intention of doing that," Mr. Angelos said.

The owner said that a smaller-scale expansion of the ballpark still is possible but that a decision on what to do won't come until all options have been studied by the ballpark's chief architect, Joe Spear.

"We want to see what Mr. Spear comes up with. He's a very talented and capable stadium architect," Mr. Angelos said. "He may come up with some approaches we haven't thought of. But I think I can say the additional number of seats will be very modest."

The owner's comments came after a meeting last week of several of the ballpark's key planners, including Mr. Angelos, Mr. Spear, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Bruce Hoffman, the Maryland Stadium Authority executive director. At the meeting, Mr. Spear and others expressed reservations about a major expansion.

Mr. Angelos said he wasn't discouraged by the discussion, because he had favored adding seats only if it could be done without harming Oriole Park.

"The major premise from the outset was that we wouldn't do anything to detract from the unique qualities of this park," he said. "This is just a confirmation that we won't make a mistake simply for the sake of adding seats."

Said Mr. Hoffman: "The conclusion everyone came to was, no matter we do, we can't ruin the ballpark. Under any circumstances, there's no way we can justify that."

Mr. Angelos and others at the meeting did consider options that might add a few hundred seats to the ballpark's capacity of 48,262. One strong possibility is to extend seating by two rows along some sections of the grandstand, a change that already was made for one night -- last year's All-Star Game.

Mr. Angelos also remains committed to building a children's pavilion, most likely within the left-field picnic grove. The pavilion would seat about 1,250, and, Mr. Angelos said, tickets in the section would be distributed free to area schoolchildren. Mr. Angelos does not count those seats among the few hundred he says could be added.

Plans for the pavilion are being revised, Mr. Hoffman said. "We're searching for [a design] that looks more permanent, so it doesn't look like an addition," he said.

Mr. Hoffman said a decision on the pavilion and the other extra seats probably would be made by midsummer. That would allow construction plans to be completed by September and work to begin in October. Any renovations would be completed by Opening Day 1995, according to Mr. Hoffman.

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