Yards gets new coat of polish, security

Appearance improved

small backpacks allowed

March 28, 2003|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

It stands to reason that in a game that relies on gloves, even the staff at Camden Yards has to show acumen.

Yesterday, senior managers walked the ballpark to review security details and look for things that need to be painted, bolted, scrubbed or vacuumed before the first game of the season on Monday.

"It's pretty much a white-glove inspection tour," said Doug Rosenberger, event operations manager. "We want the ballpark to look like it did on the first Opening Day in 1992."

Rosenberger and his boss, Roger Hayden, found their fingertips clean, a testament to nearly six months of offseason work by stadium maintenance crews. Railings and restroom doors have a fresh coat of paint, doors and chairs on the club level have been refinished, and the grounds are landscaped with almost 100,000 flowers and plants.

The latter earned Camden Yards a laudatory five-page spread in the spring 2003 edition of the gardening magazine, People, Places, Plants.

Outside the ballpark near the south side of the B&O warehouse is a new memorial to honor military personnel killed in war. The memorial replaces the one razed at Memorial Stadium and incorporates the stainless steel lettering from the massive faM-gade: "Time Will Not Dim the Glory of Their Deeds."

Ground was broken on Veterans Day for the 11-foot-tall granite monument, which will be dedicated on Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, getting to Camden Yards might require a little more patience this year because of security concerns.

The Russell Street off-ramp from northbound I-95, closed as part of a makeshift truck inspection station, will remain "shut down for the foreseeable future," said Lori Vidil, spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority.

"People who normally use Russell Street should take I-395 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway," she said. "We will continue to work with the city to refine our detour plans."

Security issues have led to other changes, as well.

Camden Yards, like all major league ballparks, will allow spectators to bring day-hike-sized backpacks to their seats. White boxes similar to those used to measure airline carry-on luggage will be at each entrance to ensure that bags and packs do not exceed 16-by-16-by-8 inches.

Hayden said the change occurred after a four-day meeting in Baltimore in December involving operations and security managers of the league's 30 stadiums.

"Diaper bags, which we allowed, were bigger than some backpacks, which we didn't. We all came to the conclusion that [the rule] didn't work," he said.

All items brought into the ballpark will be inspected, and nothing can be claim-checked at the gates.

"The gates open at noon, and we're telling fans to get here as early as they can," said Hayden.

Ballpark staff will be stationed in parking lots to hand out orange fliers listing entry rules. No-nos include hard-sided coolers and glass or metal containers. Fans who leave the ballpark cannot re-enter.

"We're confident in all of the measures we have taken," said Hayden. "We'll do the worrying. All fans have to do is cheer the team."

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