With the increasing likelihood that the coronavirus pandemic will keep fans from attending games at Camden Yards throughout the 60-game 2020 season, there still could be one way for Orioles fans to watch live baseball this year.
The Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor hotel across West Camden Street from Oriole Park has windows and balconies facing south toward the ballpark, offering fans a distant but unobstructed view of games. Although an official 2020 schedule has yet to be finalized, the Orioles likely will play 30 of their 60 games at Camden Yards.
The season will begin without fans allowed into ballparks because the pandemic, though that could change if the country manages to control the virus. In the meantime, the Inner Harbor Hilton is one of a handful of places around the country that could give fans a view of live games outside of a television, computer or phone screen.
A Hilton Hotels representative said the Inner Harbor location has 48 rooms with a ballpark view, while common areas such as the fitness center and pool also offer looks into Oriole Park. Often, those rooms have higher demand during the season, with game time and opponent factoring into their popularity. With the pandemic ongoing, all Hilton properties are recommending social distancing while promoting increased standards for cleaniness and disinfection.
The hotel has temporarily suspended operations because of the pandemic, with a representative telling the Associated Press that the hotel will not begin taking reservations until at least July 14, about a week before the shortened MLB season is scheduled to begin.
“We are communicating with guests throughout their booking journey, and once at our hotels, we’re reminding our guests to physically distance themselves for the safety of our Team Members and other guests through floor decals, signage and verbal reminders,” Karla Visconti, Hilton’s Senior Director of Americas Communications, wrote in an email.
The Orioles have more experience hosting games in an empty ballpark than other organizations, having played without fans for a game in 2015 as a result of the unrest in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody. Then, fans watched out the windows and from the balconies of the Hilton while others watched and cheered outside the closed gates on Eutaw Street.
Along with the hotel in Baltimore, which opened in 2008, other areas throughout the country could offer fans a chance to watch live baseball this summer. Toronto’s Rogers Centre is connected to a Marriott hotel with 70 rooms looking into the domed stadium, though the team has yet to inform the hotel whether those rooms can be rented out. The Bleacher Bar restaurant in Boston offers a screened view into Fenway Park. The Wall Street Journal noted that some fans are fortunate enough to live in a space with a ballpark view.
The Orioles ranked 28th of 30 teams in attendance in 2019, ahead of only the two teams in Florida. Although there were discussions of fans being welcomed into games in Texas before the virus spread further in the state, games around the league will in all likelihood be without fans initially.
“I think that’s something that will be continually assessed as circumstances in the world allow,” Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on a conference call Wednesday. “Right now, it’s not on anyone’s mind, and I’m speaking in terms of all 30 teams. We’re trying to focus on getting the players playing safely first.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this article.