New seats at O's games have corporate viewpoint

72 seats in first two rows to be reserved for partners

March 12, 2004|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

Memo to Orioles ticket holders who had front-row seats between the dugouts in the lower deck at Camden Yards: Those same seats might be in the third row this season.

And memo to Orioles catchers: You'll have less room to chase foul pop-ups.

The Orioles are adding two rows - 72 total seats - to field box sections 28 through 36. Workers have already torn down the old wall and poured the concrete risers on which the new seats will sit.

Yesterday, bricklayers were building the new wall, which will be 34 inches tall - 30 inches of bricks topped by a 4-inch concrete cap.

The new seats will reduce the distance from home plate to the stands by nearly 7 feet, to about 52 feet.

"As I picture it in my mind, I'd say it's a good move for revenue and run production," Orioles coach Tom Trebelhorn said. "Since we play 81 games there, and with the improvements we've made to our lineup, it should be an advantage to us.

"Balls that were outs last year will be in the seats. That gives us another swing, another chance to score runs. It will be more intimate with the fans closer, and that's a significant amount of space."

T.J. Brightman, the Orioles' vice president of corporate sales and sponsorships, said yesterday that the new seats will be used for the team's corporate partners and won't be sold individually. They won't even have a price on them, he said. Field box seats in those sections are $45 for season-ticket holders.

"Our corporate partners will be in those seats in the first two rows," Brightman said. "But to make it clear, there will be folks who were in the first row last year who will be in the third. But we're looking at it like the distance and the sight lines are the same. The new seats we are putting in are lower. So that person sitting in those seats, even though they're in the third row, they're just as close to the field as they were last year."

Brightman said the Orioles were in the process of contacting the affected ticket holders.

"This was, pure and simple, about demand more than anything else," he said. "Due to our growing corporate partner base, we thought it was kind of necessary to provide some really new forms of exclusive access for our sponsors."

In addition to the 72 new seats between the bases, 10 seats are being added to Section 16, beyond the first base dugout, and 14 new seats are being installed in Section 58, beyond the third base dugout. The new seats in both of those sections will also be in the first two rows.

Roger Hayden, the Orioles' director of ballpark operations, said the new seats would cost approximately $200,000. He also said it hasn't been determined if it will be paid for out of the $10 million ballpark improvement fund awarded to the team in its contentious "parity" dispute with the state.

Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.

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