Since Camden Yards opened in 1992, there have been 20 new major-league baseball stadiums built. Many of those parks share a similar trait to the field in Baltimore, where the concept of a retro-style stadium located downtown and incorporated with its surroundings was mastered. Though the whole brick design and green seating idea has been exhaustively played out, Camden Yards still stands as a remarkable baseball park. Minor tweaks and renovations the last few years have enhanced the experience, and it is an absolute must for sports fans to visit the home of the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles have a long history, and many don’t realize that the franchise was briefly a part of the American League in the very early 1900s. After the team was moved, minor-league baseball took over, and for 50 years, the O’s competed in a level equivalent to today’s Triple-A. During this time, they even outdrew big league teams. In 1954, the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and they adopted the Orioles nickname. Quickly becoming a success, the “Oriole Way” led to 18 straight winning seasons, including three World Series Championships. These teams played in the northern portion of the city at Memorial Stadium, a generic multi-purpose facility that meant a lot to the crazy fans that filled it, and they were sad to see it go in the early 1990s. However, they quickly fell in love with Camden Yards and packed the place nightly. Year after year of bad teams led by inept management soured the relationship with fans, but building on a string of recent successes, the ballpark is starting to come alive again.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
One of the ballpark's main highlights is Eutaw Street, a pedestrian walkway between the outfield bleachers and the B&O Warehouse. It is here where some of the best food at Camden Yards can be sampled, and a trip would not be complete without a visit to Boog's BBQ. The $10 sandwich also comes with coleslaw and potato chips, while the meat is your choice. Definitely go with the Pit Beef, which is a local delicacy. In this same section is Baltimore's own, Gino's, which serves burgers and chicken. Eutaw also contains a sit-down restaurant inside the warehouse (Dempsey's Brewpub and Restaurant) and a Jack Daniel's stand that serves Beer Can Chicken ($9) and a Triple Crown Sandwich ($12). A fattening and stomach-churning combination of pulled pork and bacon on a hot dog makes up the Triple Crown.
A visit to Maryland is not complete without crabs, and they make sure you have your fill at Camden Yards. Available in both the lower and upper concourse are a variety of choices, ranging from traditional crab cakes ($15) to a Rolling Crab ($5) to crab soup ($6.50). On the first level concourse, other places to check out include Polock Johnny's (all about sausage) and Tako Korean BBQ, a new feature.
When it comes to beer, ignore all the multiple national and microbrew selections. Go with the only choice that true Baltimore fans drink, National Bohemian (better known as Natty Boh). Originated in the city, this beer is so popular, I saw t-shirt jerseys with "Natty Boh" on the back. As for soda, Coca-Cola products are the option, and there are only two choices, small ($4.50) or souvenir ($6.50). They do allow food and drink to be brought into the park, so take advantage by bringing in a bottle of water.
Attending an Orioles game is an event that starts well before the first pitch. Many will arrive early to crowd Eutaw Street and get their fill of food and drink. Away from the pedestrian walkway, there are plenty of picnic tables, including a relatively new area called Legends Park, where tables topped with orange umbrellas look out at a plaza filled with statues of the Orioles' six Hall of Famers. All throughout the stadium, displays and logos add a distinctive local flavor and personalization. Especially interesting are the historic team logos on the walls of the bathroom entrances. Other areas to hang out before the game include a new bar below the scoreboard. Less crowded, but still inviting are the three small bars found in the concourse.
Inside Camden Yards is a park that is just beautiful for baseball. The backdrop can fully be appreciated in the 300-level upper deck, where Baltimore's city skyline is seen best through the outfield opening. The third base side provides a terrific view of the B&O Warehouse beyond right field. Listed as the longest building on the East Coast, the historic brick warehouse was incorporated into the design at the last second, and thank goodness, because it has become a signature at Oriole Park. All of the green seats in the triple-decker stadium are very wide and comfortable, with almost all sightlines excellent. I say almost because the back half of the lower reserved section is not good. An overhang obstructs the fan's view of the sky and makes it impossible to follow any ball in the air. I highly recommend the 300 level between home plate and third base. There is also shade for much of the game in this spot, and believe me, it gets hot during the summer in Baltimore. Another decent ticket is in the middle club level, which is surprisingly affordably-priced and includes private concourse, lounges, concessions and even waiter/waitress service.
Baltimore is not only known for its revolutionary ballpark, but the Charm City also was one of the first to complete an urban revitalization. The Inner Harbor section just south of downtown was a run-down area of abandoned industrial warehouses and shipyards. In the 1960s and 70s, city leadership made good on a plan to turn the area into a complex of office buildings, shops, restaurants and attractions. A continued build-up in the coming decades has led to the Inner Harbor being the tourist destination it is today. Camden Yards strategically is only a ten minute walk from the core of the area and it is well-worth a visit before or after the game. The wonderful National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and Maritime Museum complete with historic ships can occupy more than a day. Across the Harbor is Federal Hill, which provides a nice stop to sit on a park bench and admire the city. It is also this neighborhood in which some of the better restaurants can be found, if you want to avoid the more overpriced and busier spots.
Closer to the ballpark, there are two absolute must-visit places nearby. First, located across from the warehouse and near the outfield entrance is the old Camden Station. This building has been refurbished and includes two relatively new museums. The top floor is Geppi's Entertainment Museum (which features a history of pop-culture in the U.S.), while the main level is for the Sports Legends Museum. The focus on this $8 museum is the Baltimore Orioles and a terrific showing of memorabilia, displays and history. This is a great way to learn about the historic franchise. Also included are features on other Maryland Sports and a section on the Baltimore Colts and Ravens. After the museum, follow the 60 baseballs painted on the sidewalk from Camden Yards to the childhood home of Babe Ruth. The house has been turned into a small museum on the life of the Babe, and the displays do well to capture baseball's greatest player.
For pre and post-game food or drink, several bars and restaurants can be found in the vicinity of the ballpark. The most visible and popular section is the cluster of buildings that is home to Pickles Pub and Sliders Bar & Grille. On this visit, I rounded the corner towards Pratt Street to eat at Frank & Nics West End Grille. O's fans fill the place, but the atmosphere is better and less chaotic, and the food is pretty good, too.
The Baltimore Orioles have a strong local and regional following that goes back a long way. Fans have supported the baseball team well even back to their minor-league days. Today, that support can be seen on the streets of the city, with Baltimoreans frequently wearing team colors. However, attendance has taken a nosedive over the last decade, as fans have become fed up with the lack of success on and off the field. Green seats often outnumber orange shirts, and when the Red Sox or Yankees come to town, there are more visiting fans than those supporting the home team. While the Orioles are still toiling in the lower half of baseball's attendance rung, the fans are slowly starting to come back to Camden Yards. The game I attended on a mid-summer Saturday in 2013 was announced as a sellout and the park was about 80% full, a very welcome sight. It will be interesting to see in the coming years whether Camden will continue filling up and if the team can return to the upper echelon in fan attendance and atmosphere.
Fans in the park do make for a fun and festive atmosphere, and they often are able to generate noise to try and rally their Orioles. Much of the crowd rise to their feet after a home run, and they are also quick to acknowledge a great play. There are a couple of game traditions that make the experience stand out, and the first can startle someone if they don't know it's coming. During the National Anthem, the whole stadium will yell "Ooooo" during the "Oh say does that star spangled..." portion of the song. Often, the minor-league parks in the region will have some O's fans following tradition. Also heard each game is the playing of John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy". This song has been featured in the middle of the seventh inning, and though Maryland's I-95 corridor is clearly not "country", the tradition is honored and fun to sing along to.
It seems that all highways lead to Baltimore, as major Interstates 95, 83 and 70 all converge on the city from varying directions. I-95 is the easiest route, as there is a short I-395 spur that leads cars right to the ballpark. Parking is plentiful, with many garages around, which double as a spot for travelers also visiting the Inner Harbor. These lots can be very expensive ($20 - $30), and if walking to the Inner Harbor is not in the plans, then the surface parking between M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards is much better. It only costs only $8 to park here.
Another advantage of Camden Yards' strategic location is the availability of mass transit. The Camden Station not only has a significant history, but it is still used today and there are two types of trains that make a stop right outside the ballpark. Regionally-run MARC trains brings fans in from Maryland and specifically Washington, DC, while the city's light rail runs in a general north-south direction. Though the light-rail is not expansive, it does allow for those in Baltimore to utilize a quick mass transit service.
Bathrooms are plentiful and clean throughout the park and though Eutaw Street can get packed, the rest of the stadium's concourses are still very roomy, even by today's standards.
Not only is the whole Camden Yards experience a must, but ticket prices are some of the lowest in the league. Amazingly, all seats in the park are $60 or less when tickets are bought before game-day (they go up a few dollars on the day of the game). This even includes the seats near home plate and the club seats! The entire upper-deck can be had for less than $25. Prices can be even cheaper through secondary ticket markets, though that may not last too long as the O's popularity rebounds. Just avoid a Red Sox or Yankees game, as all tickets are increased significantly by both the team and others trying to make a profit. With the cheapest parking just $8 and the ability to bring in your own food and drink, it is possible to visit one of baseball's best stadiums for $30 or less.
I briefly mentioned the new statue garden in the outfield, but there is much more that the Orioles do to honor their past players. Along with number displays both inside and outside of the park, the team has a Hall of Fame located on one of the walls on Eutaw Street. In addition, more statues can be found before entering the gates, as both Babe Ruth and Brooks Robinson are honored.
To celebrate Camden Yards' 20th anniversary in 2012, the team unveiled a website. The site provides a terrific history and overview on the ballpark, and I particularly found interesting the "Behind the Scenes" videos, along with the interviews with the brilliant Janet Marie Smith. She was the architectural consultant at the time, and she went on to do wonderful things as VP of planning and development for Boston and Fenway Park. Many are eagerly anticipating her work with Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium.
All of the ushers are nice and accommodating at Camden Yards, but there was one in particular that stood out and deserves mention. In Section 352, the usher Sheila spent time between innings clapping to the music and genuinely enjoying herself, while accommodating our section and showing fans to their seats. Things like that really make a difference.
While walking along Eutaw Street, try to look down at the sidewalk. Scattered throughout are little baseball markers that indicate the location of each home run hit into the area. Information on the plaque includes the player, team, date and distance of home run. Try to find the lone marker on the warehouse.
Camden Yards has evolved into a ballpark that represents a change in the design and thought process of stadiums. Not only is the historical impact significant, but Oriole Park remains a terrific place to watch a baseball game. The location is busy and inviting, while Eutaw Street continues to succeed in a festival-like setting full of great food. Combined with a clean interior, comfortable seating bowl and increasingly improving game atmosphere, the home of the Baltimore Orioles is one of the best.
On April 6, 1992, Oriole Park at Camden Yards became the new home of the Baltimore Orioles. It was the first of a wave of new stadiums built to look like the old-school stadiums along the lines of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. It marked the (long overdue) death knell for the multi-purpose monstrosities such as Memorial, Veterans and Three Rivers Stadiums. Often imitated but never duplicated, it remains the touchstone on which all new ballparks are measured.
Seventeen years later, they all still have a lot to live up to.
Camden Yards is, in my estimation, a perfect ballpark. It makes me nostalgic for the "American Pastime" and I'm not even a baseball fan! Tickets are still affordable, the fans are generally nice and friendly, the stadium is so close to downtown, accessible by car and multiple forms of public transportation and is between a 10 and 20 minute walk from some wonderful Baltimore neighborhoods. Not to mention that there a few great Camden Yard pubs a stones throw from the front gates.
It'd be a bit more exciting if Cal Ripkin still played in Maryland (or if the O's had a few more wins each season) but the ambiance and convenience more than makes up for the average (am I being too generous calling them average?) team.
Camden is such a beautiful park, located in a great neighborhood. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, and you certainly can get your obligatory crab fix.
It's hard to believe that it's nearly 20 years old, as it still feels both new and old. For my money, it's one of the best parks to just soak up the baseball. It is a real shame that the product has been so bad. The fans have responded by not coming to games, leaving a hollowed out experience at this hallowed ground.
I'll start off by saying I'm not a big baseball fan. Just isn't my favorite sport but when I lived in Baltimore, I had a bunch of friends who lived there as well and they all wanted to get together and attend a game, so I went.
Let's just say, you definitely should go!
The Food & Beverage options were incredible. Pulled pork sandwiches, giant hotdogs, crab cakes, cotton candy and about 50 other options. They have just about any food option you could want and then some. Personally I got Boog's and it was very good.
The atmosphere was festive. Despite the team being bad as usual, the fans were all about having a good time. Kids genuinely excited to be at the game, parents not getting too upset when my friends kept dropping the f bomb and the actual stadium - amazing!
The ballpark is built in a nice section of Baltimore, and that is coming from someone who hated living there. You probably don't want to visit about 95% of the city, but from the inner harbor over to Camden Yards is beautiful. We drank at Pickle's before the game because of the $1 beers. The place itself, while famous, is basically a frat basement. I remember there being a huge hole in the ceiling that was just covered with a Miller Lite poster.
The fans as I mentioned above were great. The one knock is that the stadium is usually only partially filled.
Access was easy for us. We got tickets on the street for $4 apiece and it took less than 5 minutes to get through the gate. Plenty of room to move around and since the stands were not very full; we were able to pick out an area to sit away from everyone but a few families. Traffic can be a nightmare and parking prices are steep, but it is a city so that is to be expected. Luckily my friends lived on light st and had an extra parking pass.
Since the tickets and pregame beer were so cheap, hard to argue the return on investment. The promotion that day was a talking bobble head which made the ticket price even better.
Camden Yards is definitely worth the trip. Make a day out of it and go to the aquarium in the morning, followed by a walk around the inner harbor and finally the game in the evening. Guaranteed to be memorable.
I plan on going again. I travel from California and whenever I do baseball trips this is always the start or end point, because it does not get better than this. As far as food goes it's wonderful, but I'm a vegetarian. I don't eat BBQ and still this place caters to me, only Coors Field and Camden Yards compare for my menu.
Camden Yards is definitely on my top list of the best ballparks. The architecture and layout of the ballpark is great. Wide concourses and great food it doesn't get much btter than this. A definite must see for baseball fans!!
Camden Yards began the rebirth of the classic ballparks in MLB. Gone were the cookie cutter, mulitsport venues. Camden Yards is the benchmark and has held up well for 20 years. Wonderful place, just want a team to match it's greatness.
I've been to Camden Yards once, and it is well-deserving of all the praise it receives. Just a beautiful park all-around. Too bad they can't get a better team playing in there.
on a brisk evening, it was a great night with Yanks winning. Stadium is great for batting practice, activities, seats and food.
Great place to watch a ballgame. I really like the look of the place with the Warehouse beyond right field. I'm very happy MLB has gone back to the retro stadium look in so many of the new ballparks. Not a big crowd (21000+) and the Orioles got spanked, so I didn't get a feel for what it would be like in a good tight game, but I enjoyed the ballpark a lot.
The ballpark for which most of the ballparks after it were built after still evokes an classic feel in this asymetrical gem. Make sure to spend time behind the right field wall, stroll along and take in the wall which supported Cal Ripken, Jr.'s epic consecutive games-played countdown, take in the area behind center field which once was home to a tavern owned by Babe Ruth's father and above all, make sure you take advantage of relatively lowticket prices for when the Yankees or Red Sox come to town.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards turned 20 years old in 2012. While this might make every baseball fan feel a little older, it is also a good bellwether of how this ballpark set a trend in stadium construction for the better. The 1970’s era of building ballparks that would be multisport and have all the personality of a tollbooth came to an end with the success of Camden Yards. What teams and cities realized with Camden Yards is that you can incorporate a stadium into the urban architecture, and use already existing buildings and structures to make the ballpark feel like it’s been a part of the city forever.
While most Orioles fans felt that their previous ballpark (Memorial Stadium) was functional and endearing at the time, Camden Yards quickly turned all the naysayers into believers with its beauty and quirks. For the first time since the 1970’s, it felt like an actual baseball fan designed a true baseball stadium and clones of Camden Yards started to emerge in cities throughout the United States in the mid 90’s and into the early 2000’s.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built on a dilapidated freight yard just west of the popular Inner Harbor area in downtown Baltimore. What came with the property was the longest brick building on the east coast, the old B&O Warehouse. The Orioles and the architects decided to incorporate the warehouse into the ballpark, and it was converted into restaurant space, the Orioles corporate offices and an art gallery. The warehouse soon became part of baseball lore as an inviting target to left-handed hitters as a home run target. As of 2012, only Ken Griffey Jr. has hit the warehouse on the fly while participating in the 1994 Home Run Derby.
For the ballpark’s twentieth anniversary the Orioles decided to make some notable fan-friendly changes to the ballpark. The first change was to pave the picnic area in the left field bullpen area and install brass statues of all the Orioles players that have been enshrined in the baseball hall of fame. These beautiful statues include Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.
The second change was to build a batter eye’s bar on top of a structure in the outfield. The bar offers a wonderful view of the game and has flat screen televisions and couches. Any fan with a ticket to the ballgame is admitted to the bar, but the barstool seating is ticketed. The third change is to incorporate more local franchises into the food selection. Long time Baltimore establishments like Gino’s and Polack Johnny’s have food stands, and National Bohemian Beer (Natty Bo in local speak) has a bar in the lower level. They have also added a microbrew pub that is named after fan favorite and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey.
In right field, the wall height was lowered and more picnic tables were added in the right field pavilion in order to make it more accessible to watching the game. These changes have made Camden Yards even more interesting and are worth checking out during the game.
20 years ago I was inspired by Camden Yards and for many years it was the only reason to even go to see an Orioles' game in Baltimore.
Very happy there is a team this year to match the park that they play in. One of the best in baseball.
I went in 2007 so it is slightly outdated. My ONLY complaints were the scoreboard (the major one and the out-of-town one where it was very fuzzy on the main one and the out-of-town one wasn't working) and I heard muffled talk from the PA announcer or music came on.
But it seems like they rebounded well with upgrades. Overall, great atmosphere and I hope to go there once again. Best MLB park I've been to.
Attended a game in 2012, which was my first time at Camden Yards since 1995. The stadium, which was built to remind of a past era, 20 y/o later has the feel of a new ball park. Cadmen Yards has stayed true to its mission.
Truly a classic ball park with fantastic fans, atmosphere and neighbourhood. The fact that your ticket gets you into a neighbourhood rather than just a ballpark is truly something special.
Boogs barbecue even at $10:50 a sandwich is actually well worth the money. You eat one of these and you are good till lunch the next day.
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