You won't be able to keep score, yell at the ump or even sit in the stands. But Orioles fans and nonfans alike can soon drop by Camden Yards at lunchtime to savor what some consider the most important part of the ballpark experience: THE FOOD!
Starting Monday, the stadium will begin serving hot dogs, Italian sausage and other concession delicacies from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays along the Eutaw Street corridor.
Eating won't be the only activity, though. There will be tours winding from the skyboxes to the dugout. (Sorry, no visits to the field or locker room.) In Camden Station, there will be batting cages, book signings and photo booths where Orioles wannabes can have their pictures made into baseball cards. (Admission is free, but there are fees for some events.)
"We're calling it, 'Go play in the yard at lunchtime,' " says Julie Ehlers, director of special projects for the Orioles. "With the All-Star Game, there's been so much interest in the ballpark, especially among our downtown neighbors and tourists. This is a way of letting people be part of the ballpark."
Certain days are likely to spark more interest than others. On Mondays, the Camden Club -- a members-only restaurant and lounge -- will be open to the public. (Reservations are encouraged. Call 332-4649.) At Eutaw Street, Boog Powell's barbecue will be featured on Tuesdays and Tom Matte's ribs on Fridays.
But fans hankering for full-scale fare are still going to have to attend a game. The lunch menu is limited, although it may expand based on customer reaction, Ms. Ehlers says.
One thing you can count on is ballpark prices. A hot dog will cost $3, while a boxed lunch with a sandwich, fruit and dessert will be $6.50.
Those looking to work off lunch are in luck: The Orioles have a jogging/walking trail circling the ballpark; on Thursdays, there will be participatory fitness events, including aerobics demonstrations. During some weekends, baseball card shows and clinics -- for youngsters and adults -- will take place at Camden Station. (Call 547-6070 for more information.)
All activities continue through July 14, the last day of All-Star Week, and a few lunch items will be available for the rest of the season. (On select days -- including May 20, July 12 and July 13 -- the park will be open to ticket-holders only.)
Ms. Ehlers is optimistic that many events may continue throughout the summer.
"If the crowds are here," she says, "we'll keep it going."