In second dry run, stadium makes gains Problems with plumbing, traffic eased this time

August 18, 1996|By Kevin Langbaum | Kevin Langbaum,CONTRIBUTING WRITER Sun staff writer Brenda J. Buote contributed to this article.

Memorial Stadium went through its second test last night and, despite some minor glitches with the old structure and problems caused by the rain, it scored a passing grade.

"I think the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Baltimore Ravens are very pleased with the operations of the facility," said Eli Eisenberg, director of technical systems for the stadium authority. "The small problems that we had to work out, such as the plumbing and the restrooms, are all working tonight."

Also, Mass Transit Administration officials apparently corrected the problems that caused so much turmoil at the Ravens' first home game two weeks ago. Bus rides yesterday were much smoother than the mob scene that marred the Aug. 3 game at Memorial Stadium.

Transit buses started arriving at Memorial Stadium about three hours before kickoff, long before football traffic coming into the city bogged down, said Nanci Philips, an MTA spokeswoman.

More than 13,000 people used the 300 park-and-ride buses this week, Philips said.

The heavy load on the old plumbing by the record crowd of 63,804 at the Aug. 3 preseason opener left many restrooms flooded. But efforts in the past two weeks to reduce the strain on the system were largely successful.

Only one malfunction was reported, a leaky sink in an upstairs bathroom that flooded the floor and dripped into the auxiliary press box, Eisenberg said.

Seventy portable toilets were added behind the north bleachers and many of the 62,025 in attendance were directed there instead of the stadium restrooms.

The plumbing wasn't the only water-related test posed to the facility last night. The heavy rains, which started before the game and continued off and on throughout the first quarter, challenged the stadium's new high-tech turf.

The combination natural grass and AstroTurf field is designed for better drainage, with sand and pipes beneath the playing surface, said Bob Eller, Ravens director of operations. It withstood its first major test.

"So far it looks pretty good," Eller said. "I haven't really seen anybody slipping yet, either."

The rain also left the concourse crowded with people seeking cover. But no other rain-related problems were reported.

Before the game, the rains sent much of the parking lot crowd inside early, but for those who remained, beer and grills abounded despite the no-tailgating rule.

Ralph Marston of Baltimore had his grill extinguished by a plainclothes police officer, but most tailgaters were greeted by warnings from parking-lot security.

"I think they were making an example out of us," Marston said, pointing to smoke billowing up from other grills. "We're the only ones to get it put out."

An addition to the stadium last night was extra game clocks, after there were several complaints about having only one clock. The clock on the main scoreboard was replaced by clocks in the north end zone, the east mezzanine and the southwest corner.

Another complaint from the opener that was successfully addressed was the raven caw, which blared repeatedly over the public address system two weeks ago to the annoyance of many. Last night, a more subdued caw made only an occasional appearance.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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