At SABR 50 on Friday, August 19, 2022, a special panel discussion was held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Panelists included Joe Spear, founder of Populous; Greg Bader, Senior Vice President of Administration and Experience for the Baltimore Orioles; and moderator Bill Stetka, Director of Orioles Alumni and team historian.
- Audio: Click here to listen to the SABR 50 Camden Yards panel (MP3; 1:01:25)
Here are some highlights:
On the importance of teamwork in the construction of Camden Yards
- Spear: “Every debate we had with the three organizations: the Orioles, the architects, and the MSA (Maryland Stadium Authority), it was about what was best: What do the fans want? What do the Orioles need to be successful? It was a beautiful thing. I think the workmen on site took pride in this in a way that I have only seen a few other times in my career as an architect. You could tell they cared, and they knew that they were going to bring their grandchildren here someday.”
On how Camden Yards honors the history of baseball in Baltimore
- Stetka: “We do have a number of photos of the 1890s Orioles scattered around the offices in the ballpark. We don’t do as much with the minor-league Orioles (from the early 20th century); I go out and I give talks about the history of Baltimore baseball starting in the 1800s and how we got to here. But we don’t have a lot of artifacts from there. … The Babe Ruth Museum does a much better job and has more resources for that, so we kind of leave it to them to tell the story of baseball in Baltimore before 1954.”
On the legacy of Camden Yards
- Spear: “I did (realize its potential) after a time… I was asked, ‘What is the lifespan of this building that we are designing?’ And I said, ‘If we all do our job well — which by then I knew we all were, the Orioles were great to work with — it would last indefinitely.’ … Look at Fenway or Wrigley. If the fans fall in love with the place, the city will cherish it, it will be well-maintained, and it will be here 100 years from now.”
On the future of Camden Yards
- Bader: “Camden Yards in 30 years has created an economic impact of over $10 billion. For the $100 million and change that it cost to build this stadium, that’s a pretty good return 30 years later. So we are obviously looking for ways to create a situation where fans get a better experience (in the future), without in any way diminishing what is already there. What we did in 2012 (with renovations to the ballpark) was very respectful of what the facility is and looks like and what it means to people. There’s a very strong emotional attachment and I think most Orioles fans would not point to many things they would like to see changed. But we certainly believe that to attract new fans there are social spaces and other areas where fans who don’t sit in their same seat for nine innings can come and enjoy a game and want to pay money to do that. … There is also, in reality, hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that have to be made to this facility 30 years later and that’s everything from boring-sounding things like boilers to renovations of both clubhouses, creating a meeting area that’s more conducive to the year 2022, and creating other elements that are just more in tune with the way people will interact with the facility.”
Transcription assistance by Chance Nelson.
For more coverage of SABR 50, visit SABR.org/convention.
Originally published: September 14, 2022. Last Updated: September 14, 2022.