Manufacturer's error means fans must wait for new seats

July 15, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

They're going, going.

But arguably the worst seats at Camden Yards aren't gone just yet.

The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority haven't changed their plans to replace about 3,000 chairs at the ballpark -- most with views comparable to watching baseball from the back of a crowded elevator.

But officials say the schedule for installing the new seats, designed to point fans closer to the action, suffered an unusual setback recently when about a third of the replacements arrived with a familiar flaw. They, too, pointed the wrong way.

The seat manufacturer, American Seating Co., is shouldering blame for the foul-up. The company's mistake was to deliver seats for five right-field and two left-field sections when it should have sent the opposite.

The difference is crucial because the new, custom-made seats point to the infield on roughly a 10-degree angle. As a result, chairs intended for left- and right-field sections aren't interchangeable.

"I'd call it a very expensive error. But this doesn't cost the [stadium] authority anything," said Ray Kenaga, national accounts manager for American Seating. "We stand by what we do."

All 3,204 seats in the replacement project are along the foul lines, including many in sections near the foul poles. Fans who've sat in the sections complain that sightlines are poor, and that they have to crane their necks to catch a glimpse of action at home plate.

Earlier this year, work was finished in four sections -- two in right field and two in left. The three sections still waiting for new seats -- a total of 1,296 chairs -- are in left field. Those seats should be in place by the end of August, predicted Ed Cline, deputy executive director of the stadium authority.

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