Although details haven't been completed, the Orioles have had discussions with the New York Mets about opening the ballpark with an exhibition game against the NL team, according to officials of both clubs.
According to preliminary plans, the game probably would be played on the night of April 3, the Friday before the start of the vTC '92 regular season.
Orioles president Larry Lucchino said the game was "highly speculative" and cautioned that agreement hadn't been reached. "We're in the process of making plans, we've not made them yet," he said.
But Mets executive vice president Al Harazin appeared confident that the game will be played.
"We're tickled to death to have a look at this new ballpark. We've heard so many good things about the design," said Harazin, who was an Orioles executive for seven years in the 1970s.
Harazin said he and Lucchino first talked about playing the game at the 1989 World Series. "I mentioned that I was interested in the new ballpark, and if he was interested in having a shakedown game to get the bugs out before the opener, we'd be interested in doing that with them," the Mets official said.
Harazin said Lucchino appeared "taken with the idea."
Said Lucchino: "The truth is we have discussed the possibility of an early game. But we have made no definitive plans nor would we without being clear about the stadium [construction] schedule and other plans for an opening."
If played, the exhibition game will serve various functions for fans, ballpark officials and the Orioles players themselves, all of whom will be feeling their way around the 47,000-seat stadium for the first time. For Mets players and front-office officials, it's simply a chance to be part of history, Harazin said.
In 11 years with the Mets, he said he couldn't recall the team playing the debut game in any ballpark, except at the Mets' spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "But that was in a modest way, in a 7,000-seat facility. That has nothing to do with a 50,000 ballpark," Harazin said.