A plan for Oriole Park improvements as part of a new ballpark lease is now under discussion between the Baltimore Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority, potentially adding more year-round events and new social spaces.
The current lease runs through the 2021 season, but the Orioles have been mapping out a plan for the next round of Oriole Park improvements for several years, as well as changes in team operations that would schedule events year-round. There is no public debt on the ballpark, so the Stadium Authority is in a position to tackle ballpark improvements. And, honestly, the way the Orioles have been run is changing, and ballpark improvements would accelerate those changes. Orioles owner Peter Angelos was a noted opponent of holding off-day events at the ballpark, but his sons aren’t, and last year the ballpark hosted a successful Billy Joel concert. Though neither side are confirming to the Baltimore Sun that negotiations are taking place, informal talks have been going on since 2019.
A visit to Oriole Park reveals what makes it unique, and some of the shortcomings it has in comparison to newer facilities. While the retro-influenced design has aged nicely, and influenced a wave of ballparks that followed, it also has a fixed seating capacity around 46,000 that is arguably too large by today’s standards, lacks open concourses.
In addition, the Orioles are looking at additional social spaces in Oriole Park, following the well-documented trend of ballparks across the board reconfiguring spaces to allow for groups to gather. Now, how this plays out in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen, given that we’re all still trying to map out the future of ballparks. But the long-term play would be to assume things will return to some sort of normalcy in coming years.
Additionally, there are some other upgrades that the Orioles and MSA could consider. Adding public Wi-Fi could be among technology upgrades and there could be some discussion of improving and/or adding revenue-generating premium areas. Still, any renovations are unlikely to drastically alter the look and feel of Oriole Park, which has held up over nearly 30 years and continues to be one the ballpark’s positive traits.