The precisely manicured green grass at Oriole Park leads the eyes to the outfield seats and up to the scoreboard.
The board, with its big clock on top, its pair of Oriole birds perched on iron poles and its old-fashioned iron support structure, looks like the JumboTron scoreboard that has been in the park since the day it was installed 16 years ago.
But looks can be deceiving.
The video/scoreboard the Maryland Stadium Authority unveiled yesterday is not the old scoreboard, but the result of a $5 million project.
Authority chairman Frederick W. Puddester said the new screens would give the stadium, the 17th oldest in the major leagues, "a bit of a rebirth." He said he is particularly pleased the leap to 21st-century technology was achieved "without rebuilding the structure."
"Every other city has tried to copy Baltimore's ballpark, and we want to keep it up to snuff," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, who was present yesterday to watch a demonstration of the new board.
The new board will be unveiled to a sellout crown on Opening Day on Monday. It is 8 feet wider and 1 foot taller, but the main improvement, authority technical manager Vince Steier said, is in the board's resolution of images. High definition has come to Oriole Park.
The Mitsubishi Diamond Vision board is also pragmatic from an energy standpoint. Steier said it would use "one-tenth of the power" of the JumboTron.
The scoreboard is one of many changes at Oriole Park..
The Bud Lite Warehouse Bar will be on the bottom floor of the warehouse, where the Irish Pub used to be. It will be open before the game, host the team's pre-game radio show with Tom Davis and Dave Johnson from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and remain open for an hour after the game.
The left-field club section that opened midseason last year and became a popular place with the inclusion of its "all-you-can-eat" snack bars, has been expanded. It now will include the entire left-field club section and have additional concession stands.
The price appears to be the big draw. A seat in club sections outside the "all-you-can-eat" area is $40, which is the same price as the inclusive area when the ticket is bought in advance. At the gate on game day the food-included section seats go for $45, which is still a savings for anyone who wants to eat ballpark fare.
A new seafood stand, Charm City Seafood, will be located on the main concourse behind home plate serving crab pretzels, crab soup, crab cakes and steamed shrimp.
There are also several special activities planned this season.
The 100th anniversary of the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has inspired the Orioles to offer fans who come to FanFest or the opening-week games the opportunity to perform their rendition of the song. The club will narrow the entries to 10, and those 10 will be posted on the team's Web site, where fans will be able to vote for their favorite. The winner will get the chance to sing the song at a future game.
There is also "Field Trip Day" on May 1. On that day, the Orioles are inviting school groups to the ballpark at discounted rates to see demonstrations with the WJZ (Channel 13) weather team and the Orioles' grounds crew to learn how the weather report influences everything from seeding to mowing the outfield grass. After the demonstrations, the kids will see the Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays.
But the new video/scoreboard was the star yesterday, as digital images of the Orioles, Ravens, Pimlico and the downtown skyline played over the screen and "I Love You Baltimore" from Hairspray wafted through the loudspeakers.