Shorebirds start new era with new park Game's back in Salisbury after a 47-year hiatus

Minor League

April 02, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- Each time Peter Kirk supervises the construction of a minor-league baseball park, his spirit is renewed.

And Kirk is excited right now because Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, the home of the Delmarva Shorebirds of the Single-A South Atlantic League, lacks only the finishing touches.

"Each new park is like having children," said the chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, which also built Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick and Prince George's Stadium in Bowie.

"I think this is the best one because we've learned as we've gone along. But each is special in a different way. It's like going from generation to generation."

The first professional team in Salisbury since 1949, when the Salisbury Cardinals of the old Eastern Shore League folded, the Shorebirds are setting up shop in an area with a storied baseball past.

From Home Run Baker and Jimmie Foxx to Harold Baines and Ryan Thompson, the Eastern Shore is loaded with tradition.

The Shorebirds will not open at Perdue Stadium until April 17 and will play only eight games there before May 6. The quirk of that schedule buys Kirk some time to complete the amenities at the park.

For now, the field -- installed last September -- scoreboard, message board and seating areas are finished. The clubhouses soon will be.

The similarities to the first two stadiums will be evident to anyone who has visited all three -- the grassy areas along the foul lines (with a carousel to be installed for kids), the seating design.

But there also are major differences at this park, starting with the entry by climbing steps.

The dressing areas, the weight room, hitting cages, umpires room and the Eastern Shore baseball museum will be beneath the stands. Eventually, the team's offices also will be located there.

There are six sky boxes and a huge, two-tiered area directly behind home plate for club-level seating in an outdoor cafe that ++ includes service.

"Club seats are popular, so we decided to make them the best ones. We found a lot of companies looking for four, six or eight quality seats instead of 18 or 20," said Kirk.

One concession area will be cubbyholed halfway down the seating bowl, meaning fans will not have to climb back up for refreshments.

"We're able to put children underneath, where they can roam freely," said Kirk. "We gave up a lot of seats to create that recessed area, but we think it's worth it."

The stadium will seat 5,200, but has been approved to hold 10,000 on the big promotional nights. Built at a cost of $10 million, it was only slightly less expensive than Kirk's showplace at Bowie.

The stadium upholds Kirk's promise to chicken magnate Frank Perdue to bring baseball back to the Shore after Perdue helped finance some cost overruns in Bowie.

The team will be affiliated with the Montreal Expos this summer -- it is scheduled to switch to the Orioles in 1997 -- and preseason sales have been phenomenal.

The Shorebirds have sold almost 300,000 tickets, and "we haven't started to target the people at the beach vacationing," said Keith Lupton, Maryland Baseball's director of baseball operations.

Shorebirds at a glance

Stadium: Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.

Directions: Take Route 50 East from Baltimore through Salisbury; DTC take right on Hobbs Road; stadium is at intersection of Routes 50 and 13 bypass.

League: South Atlantic, Single-A.

Manager: Doug Sisson, first year at Salisbury.

General manager: Bill Davidson.

Affiliation: Montreal Expos.

Game times: 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday except April 20 and Sept. 2 (2 p.m.), and June 26 and July 24 (12: 30 p.m.); 2 p.m. Sundays except May 26 and Sept. 1 (7 p.m.).

Ticket prices: Club level, $12; field level, $9; box seats, $7; general admission: adults, $5; children and senior citizens, $3; children in Little League uniforms and 5 or younger, free.

Radio: WDNO (95.3 FM)

Pub Date: 4/02/96

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