Renovation projects coming along well
Orioles manager Buck Showalter and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail today visited the Orioles' major league spring training complex at Ed Smith Stadium and the minor league facility at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park. It will be interesting to get Showalter’s perspective on the facilities when he meets with the media later today.
As for my perspective, I walked around both facilities yesterday with Orioles vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith, and I was impressed with how much progress has been made. I went to Ed Smith about six weeks earlier when the Orioles last played the Rays and they were still heavily involved in the process of taking things out -- as in the older seats and stuff -- than putting things on. But that has changed, and it’s easy to see why team officials are so confident that the project will be done by mid-February 2011 when Orioles start reporting for spring training.
“This is the most fun part of the project,” Smith said as she stood in what remained of the gutted press box and looked out toward center field. “You can see it coming together. Everything is no longer on paper.”
While we were there, workers were installing steel plates, which will help support a canopy that will address the frequent complaints about the lack of shaded areas at Ed Smith. All the entrances were cut out, including the one right behind home plate that will allow fans to walk in and immediately get a glimpse of the field. The spots for the deli and the Orioles team store were marked off, while bulldozers moved around dirt and debris in the areas that will hold both the home and visiting bullpens and the picnic area.
Workers are hoping to finish the steel work by November, and then they’ll begin the framing of the building and other projects. That will include laying Astroturf on one of the fields so the Orioles can prepare for playing 18 games a year on the turf at Tropicana Field and Rogers Centre.
The only part of the project that won’t begin is the renovation of the building that houses both the Orioles' clubhouse and offices. That probably won’t begin until after the team heads north after spring training.
As for Twin Lakes Park, the much-maligned facility, the main clubhouse building is completely gutted. Not only will the whole clubhouse building undergo a thorough and much-needed renovation, but four of the outfields will also be redone. The infields were made over last year.
The Orioles will then take some of the sod removed from Twin Lakes and bring it to Ed Smith, where it will be put down to clean up some of the nearby parking lots and areas.
“When we said we’re trying to put nothing in the dumpsters, we mean it literally,” Smith said.
Ed Smith Stadium will also use the seats removed from Camden Yards the past couple of offseasons.
Photo by Craig Landefeld