What's It Actually Like at Camden Yards?
Baseball returned to Baltimore today. A fans-eye view of the experience.
Thursday of course was Opening Day at the Yard. First time I’ve gotten to go to a game since August of 2019 and, of course, the first time fans have been at the Yard since the tail end of that season.
So after just one game in the COVID era, what’s it like going to a game this year;
The price of parking has gone up to $10. At least in the Lot F/G/H lot that we usually park in;
Everything is cashless; that has been a point that has been highly emphasized by the team prior to today;
In the men’s room, there were signs that were closing off half of the sinks and half of the urinals for social distancing purposes. Most men already know to keep one urinal distance between them and any other folks in the premises, but the signs reinforced that;
Not all of the concessions are open. We sat on the lower deck and a number of the concession stands and team store areas were closed off. Some of the free-standing carts that are food concessions were shunted off to the Kids Zone area;
That’s because the Kids Zone area was, obviously, closed. All of the kids’ attractions, kids food area, etc was barricaded off;
Outside food and drink are banned from the stadium this year. This is one of the most obnoxious new rules for this year, primarily because it has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with extracting more money from fewer people.
Not coincidentally and almost certainly related to my last point, concession prices went up significantly since 2019. The hot dog that was $6 is now $6.50. The souvenir soda that was $5.50 is now $7.50. Considering that the rate of inflation since 2019 is 1.43%, it is safe to say that these prices exceed the rate of inflation. I don’t know what the price of beer is, as I didn’t want to take out another mortgage to pay for it.
Speaking of concession stands, there is mobile ordering this year. The concept is that if you order from your phone, you can go pick up your food without having to wait online. That’s a great idea except for when I went to get food in the 2nd inning for the family the line to pick up mobile ordering was actually longer than the line to wait for food. Additionally, for those of you who are picky about such things, there is nothing customizable in the order processing for those of you who want to make simple requests like “no ice” for your soda.
Much to my disappointment, I forgot that Pepsi replaced Coke before the 2019 season. There’s nothing like remembering that fact while you’re in line.
Despite the “Opening Day is only for seasoning ticket holders” there were still Red Sox fans there and, weirdly, a family decked out in Yankees gear.
Those are the key changes that you need to know this season. As far as the rest of the experience it is, to an extent, the same as it was in 2019. Walking around the concourse is still an exercise in frustration as people randomly stop in the middle of the road in front of you while people crowd your personal space behind you. There are still people will stop at the top of your section, block the stairs, and look lost while you’re trying to carrying four people’s worth of food. There are still Fed Hill dudebros getting blotto at the game and making arses of themselves. Just now there’s the fun addition of people who don’t think mask requirements apply to them.
No matter the small annoyances, it was a pleasure having small annoyances like this. Despite the result, a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day a lot of places. We’ll be back on Sunday and it will be interesting to see what changes made be made in the meantime, as well as how much of the experience changes when sitting in the upper deck vis-a-vis the lower deck.