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At some parks, entire game is like a 7th-inning stretch


BOWIE -- For younger baseball fans, sitting still in the stands for three hours can be difficult and sometimes boring.

Several teams, such as the Bowie Baysox, have taken this in mind and have created "kids areas" in their ballparks. These sections enable younger fans to play and still keep an eye on the game.

At Prince George's County Stadium, the right-field playground area now has a colorful, custom-made, 20-animal merry-go-round.

The cost is $1 to ride one of 10 standing horses, six jumping horses, one rooster, one chimpanzee, two tigers, a regular zebra and a specially designed, teal Baysox zebra. The carousel adds flair to the 2-year-old stadium with 500 lights and calliope music.

"It's really a lot of fun," said Ashley Moore, 11, of Laurel, who had ridden the merry-go-round twice. "It's better than sitting for a long time. You can see the game from here, and the games seem to go faster."

Other features at the playground include a wooden train and ship to run around on and climb through; a fast-pitch target that clocks your velocity; a face-painting booth; and a food stand that sells such specialties as peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and kid-sized hot dogs.

"It kind of shows that they thought of us," said Tim Bradford, 12, of Crofton. "It's pretty cool for me and my friends to come over here, and my parents can watch the game and not worry."

Most of these playgrounds are found in minor-league ballparks, but Coors Field, the first-year home of the Colorado Rockies, has many features designed especially for younger fans.

Fans can get into a section above center field called the Rockpile, which charges admission of $4 for adults and $1 for kids. Tickets are available only on game day.

The kids area, which is between third base and left field, has standard playground equipment, such as slides. And because the area is on the concourse level inside the stadium, younger fans can catch glimpses of the game while playing.

Like Prince George's County Stadium, the Coors Field playground has food stands for younger fans. But most of Coors' counter tops are about 32 inches high.

There is even a "Buckaroos" souvenir store, where younger fans can shop and feel as if they're on the frontier.

Coors Field didn't stop at stores and food. It also features eight family restrooms for parents with toddlers.

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