Fever Pitch

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The Bird says it best – Welcome to October, the second season of 2014.  Although the O’s organization has been quietly preparing for this day, it still arrives with uncontained excitement and a thousand little (and big) details to be sorted out.

Visitors parading down Eutaw Street enjoying the beautiful weather had an unexpected surprise yesterday afternoon —   the newly-arrived Tigers, and then the O’s, took the field for some batting practice.  A quick glance from the Warehouse Window revealed a delighted tourist snagging a ball that bounced on Flag Court and through the gates.  Though the stadium was closed, the popular viewing spots over the bullpens filled with fans.

Cleaning crews were policing every corner and the caterers were stocking concession stands until late last night.

In a few hours, the gates will open, and the season begins anew.  We’re hoping this one runs until November.

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Stars of the Summer Nights

Beyonce stageIt wouldn’t be Maryland if we didn’t have steamy days and sultry nights, June through August.  But such is when the stars come out, just as hot and pulsating as an approaching thunderstorm.

Summer concerts and music festivals bring music aficionatos to venues throughout the region.  And one of the most popular is is Camden Yards.  For all the conveniences and facilities that make this the perfect location for staging major sports events (public transportation, walkability, convenience to interstates) also apply to entertainment.

Camden Yards has shone a celestial array over the past few weeks.  The annual African American Festival was headlined by R&B chanteuse Brandy, who filled the festival grounds for her performance on Sunday, June 22nd.  AFRAM traditionally draws several hundred thousand revelers over the course of the weekend, with the Sunday night free concert being the highlight of the festivitiebeyonces.

Monday, July 8th, M&T Bank Stadium was filled to capacity for the touring production “On the Run,” featuring Beyonce and Jay-Z.  This fol
lowed the equally successful “Legends of the Summer” tour last summer with Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

Hosting such entertainment spectacles is an important part of the Maryland Stadium Authority’s commitment to the citizens of Maryland, who own our complex.  We, along with our partners/tenants, make our myriad facilities available for events and activities far beyond professional sports.  We are a community asset as well as a state property.  Most of all, we are a place where people gather to make memories . . .  and reach for the stars.

The Movable Feast at Camden Yards

It was just a matter of time before the annual “Taste of Two Cities” food truck festival found its way to Camden Yards.  As the event attracted more trucks and fans after two successful years, a larger and more accessible site was needed.  A name change was also in order as Philly joined Baltimore and Washington for the fun.

So on Saturday, May 31st, a convoy of cookeries mustered on Lot C between Hamburg Street and the 395 overpass for a “Taste of Three Cities.”  The 50+ chuckwagons were joined by vendors offering crafts, clothes, and food truck 8assorted oddities.  (Perhaps the most unusual offering of the day was a stuffed wild boar’s head, quickly snapped up by The Kommie Pig for a hood ornament.)
The all-day event also featured live music, inflatable kiddie activities, and plenty of adult beverages to go with the hydrating variety.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 folks wandered the lots, sampling the cuisine and voting for their favorites.  Two-time winner of the Mayor’s Cup, Gypsy Queen, was selected the People’s Choice this year.  Judges awarded the Mayor’s Cup to cupcake concessionaire Iced Gems.food truck 1

A young lady on the light rail was showing off the prize winning cupcakes when the operator came over the speaker and asked if anyone had tried the chocolate dipped cheesecake.  A show of hands indicated more calories accounted for.

By Monday, the sidewalk gourmets would be back to performing their magic at various outposts in their respective cities.  But for variety and sheer indulgence, it was  hard to top the mobile food court you could find at Camden Yards this weekend.

ROC Race Jumpstarts Summer Season

Marylanders of yore marked Memorial Day as summer’s start, with the opening of community pools and annual migration to the shore.  Bikini frolics in the Preakness infield moved the season up a bit, and Sunday’s ROC Run pushed the envelope even further.ROC_group

Imagine an obstacle course at a water park, with the squeal factor of Chuck E. Cheese, and you can grasp the concept of the ROC Run. Reality TV with game-show hosts narrating each contestant.  And once again, the perfect place for staging a production-driven event — Camden Yards.

Enormous inflatable structures (which withstand both weight and water) were stationed at various locations on the 85 acre complex.  Twelve “challenges” over a 5k course ended with a glorious water slide under the 395 overpass.

(Like the Dew Tour of long ago, this had to be an eyeful for unsuspecting Light Rail and car passengers.)

While not as messy as some of the mud run options available to intrepid runners, ROC Run still had plenty of water hazards.  Toughest appeared to be the tandem wrecking balls that send most contestants into the drink with a bop on the posterior.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated.  Temps climbed to nearly 70 degrees after the day began with cool breezes.  The thousands who left Camden Yards, soaked and sloppy, would agree that summer must really be underway.

It’s also saying something about the popularity of Camden Yards as a venue when you get on the Light Rail with a trio of tutus and the operator says “some kind of race goin’ on at the park?”

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Next up:  the Electric Run July 19, where we’re certain to see fluorescent tutus glowing in the dark.

Roc, Roll, and Run for Fun — Spring at Camden Yards

They are looking for many photos as there will be a standalone photo gallery for this event as well as the usual 6 or so for the rewThe vernal equinox brings more than migrating Birds to Camden Yards. While our 85 acre urban complex is best known as a professional sports venue, its size and location make it the perfect site for other spectator and participatory activities.

As the temperatures (finally!) rise, so do the number of Camden Yards visitors for something other than baseball. This spring marks the return of one instant crowd favorite and the inaugural appearance of another.

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It was a dark and stormy night . . .

It snowed most of Tuesday at Camden Yards, a relative rarity for a Maryland spring.  To our friends and teammates at Sports Legends, it was an eerie reminder of the event they were observing later in the week – the anniversary of the ignominious departure of the Baltimore Colts, early on the snowy morning of March 29, 1984.

For the fund-raising fete, Sports Legends welcomed guests to the scene in Owings Mills where the Mayflower convoy began their trek westward.  What was once the Colts training facility and team headquarters is now Caves Athletic and Wellness Center, home of the 2013 NCAA Division III Lacrosse champions, Stevenson University.

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Scenes from Opening Day 2014

Hope springs eternal on Opening Day, so the adage goes.  Anything is possible.  Even sunshine.  After an interminable winter and two days of the dreaded wintery mix, Monday dawned with bright skies, moderate temps and a brisk breeze.  Spring and the Orioles are back.centerfield deck

Even before the faithful flock to Camden Yards, Opening Day is underway.  The ground crew, led by Nicole McFayden, makes sure every blade is in place and every basepath smoothed to perfection.  Hard to imagine after the mercurial weather of the past few weeks, but the field looks perfect long before the morning interviews begin.
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