Camden Yards Proposes Picnic Area Makeover

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Nearly $2 million in changes may be coming to Camden Yards.

Weijia Jiang explains the improvements could have a widespread impact on baseball fans and downtown Baltimore.

It’s not just the baseball community ready to embrace a renovation. Many nearby business owners say an update will boost their bottom line.

Even on a sunny December day, there’s no baseball or players to see at Oriole Park.

But die-hard fan Jo Anne Cubberly made a road trip from New Jersey just to visit Camden Yards.

“I love the team, I love the park,” Cubberly said.

Cubberly doesn’t have much company during the off-season but soon, she might. The Maryland Stadium Authority plans to turn the street-level picnic area behind center field into a park featuring new concessions, a rooftop viewing area and retail space.

“If they’re gonna be down here, travel or going to D.C., they can stop here and hopefully the local people will come and enjoy, too,” Cubberly said.

“The way it is is the way it’s always been,” John Slaughter of Baltimore said. “To make changes sometimes is not good, but then again, if it’ll bring more to the stadium it’ll be well worth it.”

The $1.8 million project aims to make the park a year-round destination. Neighboring business owners hope that means a financial boost for them.

“Drawing more people to this area when there’s not an Orioles game, and if there were, would bring more bodies, more money to the city as far as sales tax is concerned,” Frank Zafonte of Frank and Nic’s West End Grille said.

The cluster of downtown hotels stands to benefit, too.

“Having an additional venue people can enjoy, close to the center, close to the light rail part of Camden Yards is a great part of our identity,” John Tiffey of Hotel Monaco said.

Perhaps a new identity will be just in time for the park’s 20th season next spring.

The project is not a done deal yet. Next week, the city’s Board of Public Works will vote on the contract.

Developers plan to unveil more specifics of the new park at an event next week.

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