BALTIMORE, FEB. 11 -- Seagulls were wading in left field today, occasionally buffeted by strong winds and at one point saluted by snowflakes. Nevertheless, construction of the Baltimore Orioles' new ballpark was on schedule, destined for dedication on opening day 1992.
"We're ahead in most areas and there are a few areas where we have to get moving," said Bob Wyatt, project manager for Barton Malow, the firm in overall charge of construction at the Camden Yards site. "But it will be ready for opening day, no question."
He guided four players -- pitchers Dave Johnson, Anthony Telford and Mike Linskey, and outfielder Mike Devereaux -- and numerous hard-hatted media representatives on a tour of the as-yet unnamed 47,000-seat ballpark. It took some imagination to visualize the finished product, but it is obvious "play ball" will mean vast differences from the familiar and often annoying tradition of Memorial Stadium:
All seats will have a good view of the playing field and will be closer to it, with limited foul territory. At the old park, 4,337 of the 53,371 seats are obstructed.
Seats will be more comfortable, from 19 to 21 inches wide, compared with Memorial Stadium's 16-19, and with leg room of 32-33 inches, compared to 24-26.
There will be more amenities, more concession stands, more toilets. There will be 28 restrooms for men and 28 for women; the total for both at the old park is 27. Stall capacity for women has been increased 60 percent.
There will be more means of access and more parking spaces, although busy Sundays at the Inner Harbor could make things hectic. Interstate routes 83, 95 and 395 are close to the park and both the light rail from Hunt Valley and MARC trains from Washington will stop there. The end of those traffic jams through neighborhood streets could be the biggest plus.
Scoreboards will provide more information, along with inning-by-inning out-of-town scores. Beyond the center field scoreboard will be the skyline of Baltimore. Across Eutaw Street, beyond right field, is the refurbished B&O Warehouse, to be used for club offices, a Hall of Fame, a cafeteria and a sports bar.
The game will be different. With an asymmetrical playing field that has left center (410 feet) deeper than dead center (400), there figure to be more doubles and triples.
There will be better lighting, an improved sound system, modern clubhouses and extensive practice facilities for the players.
There will be 60 luxury suites, the primary reason why the new park was built, along with other club and lounge facilities.
Of course, everyone isn't 100 percent happy. It will be 319 feet down the right field line -- to be marked by the same pole that presently stands in Memorial Stadium -- and 335 to left. That prompted Telford, while signing construction workers' hard hats at the future pitching mound, to say: "I wish they'd put the home-run fence on top of that warehouse."