This winter's weather has delayed construction of the Bowie Baysox's new park, Prince George's County Stadium, which is not likely to be ready for the scheduled home opener April 12.
"It is still possible we can make it," said Peter Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, which owns the Double-A Baysox and Single-A Frederick Keys.
"But the contractors have already told us they don't think they'll be able to give it to us April 12."
Kirk said that the playing field will be ready and that "we're only waiting for the right conditions to put the sod down.
"The problem is with all the concrete work. With the site way back in the woods, we need warm, dry weather to get the parking lots paved, and all we've had is cold and wet. And the seats are ready, but they can't pour the concrete to set them."
Kirk is exploring options for the first 18 scheduled home games, which would take the Baysox to May 20.
The first home series against the Trenton Tigers probably will be played at Frederick's Grove Stadium because Trenton -- which also has a stadium under construction -- has encountered the same kind of snags with weather and is behind schedule.
After that, the Baysox's preference is a trade-off of home and away games with opponents, and Kirk said he also is toying with the idea of playing the April 29-May 1 series against Reading (a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate) in Wilmington, Del. The Blue Rocks have agreed to a switch.
There is also a possibility that the Orioles farm club would play host to the Canton-Akron Indians at Camden Yards in a two-game weekend series April 16-17, with minor-league prices being charged.
"That would give people who never get a chance to go there an opportunity to see the park," Kirk said. "We would also give away tickets to some kids in town who might otherwise never see a game."
Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin said: "They've asked us to look into it, and we'll go through all the channels necessary. My gut feeling is we should be able to play a couple of games there, if nothing conflicts. We'll need the approval of the Maryland Stadium Authority, and there are some other events down there that weekend, so those may not be the dates, but I think we'll be able to play."
Shipley Field at the University of Maryland is another potential site, but Kirk almost has ruled out a return to Memorial Stadium, the Baysox's home last season. Memorial Stadium is scheduled to be renovated to accommodate the city's new Canadian Football League team.
The least attractive option is to give up the home games and play them at the other team's park. Kirk said the Baysox want to avoid that.
Kirk said fans who have bought tickets will be offered refunds if travel away from Bowie is a problem.
"We've written the fans and all our advertisers a letter explaining the situation," he said. "We think it's a manageable problem for us, but it's our first season in Bowie, and we want to be open with everybody who might be inconvenienced."