BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Oriole Park at Camden Yards celebrates 30 years this season.
The Orioles are commemorating the 30th anniversary all season, including during the team’s home opener Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers.READ MORE: How To Avoid Heat-Related Illness This Blistering Weekend
“A lot of people in Baltimore didn’t want to leave Memorial Stadium, and I was among them,” team historian Bill Stetka said. “Once you came here, it felt like you’d been here forever.”
Stetka was the official scorer on April 6, 1992, the team’s first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“The greatest part, I thought, was it’s a new stadium, but it’d felt like baseball had been played there before,” Cal Ripken, Jr., told WJZ. “You step one step in Camden Yards, even at the time before it was finished and you go, ‘Oh, man. This is awesome.'”
Fans had a similar reaction.
“I remember walking by it and saying, ‘They’re going to put a stadium here?'” Wes Michael, who lived nearby and attended the first game, said. “So many people I know said, ‘We don’t need a new stadium. Memorial Stadium’s fine. Let’s fix it up a bit.’ Then they opened this and I never heard anybody say that. It was like, ‘This is a cut above, baby.'”
Then-Oriole Park Vice President of Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith said there were alternate designs that included no warehouse—or part of it.READ MORE: Person Shot At Owings Mills Pizza Shop
“It wasn’t just a warehouse. It was a thousand foot long warehouse, so it’s the size that made it so special,” Smith said. “When Camden Yards opened in 1992, it seemed so fresh and new. And every time we have an anniversary, it still seems so fresh and new.”
Smith points out that she corralled input from the club, including manager Frank Robinson, as it worked with the Maryland Stadium Authority and the design team, headed by architect Joe Spear of Populous–then known as HOK.
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, just three blocks west of Oriole Park, houses Orioles’ and Ravens’ memorabilia. Its executive director, Shawn Herne, said the park’s intimacy makes fans feel part of the game.
“I think it’s the most significant sports architecture creation since the construction of (the original) Yankee Stadium in 1923,” Herne said. “All of the (ballparks) that have come since are special, but they’re still not quite an Oriole Park at Camden Yards.”
Stetka says there were alternative locations for the new Orioles’ stadium. Officials discussed Port Covington (in South Baltimore), Timonium, Columbia, and Laurel. Stetka said then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a former Baltimore City mayor, pushed for a downtown stadium.
“(Oriole Park) started a revolution,” Stetka said. “I’m sure it will stand the test of time.”MORE NEWS: Local Dance Group Invites You To Groove At Jewish Community Center Of Greater Baltimore Block Party