Orioles fans campaign for OK to tailgate Opening Day

When it comes to tailgating, the policy at downtown stadiums is simple: Ravens fans can do it. Orioles fans can't. Now there's a Facebook campaign to try to change that.

The drive was started by two lifelong Orioles fans: Austin Bogus, 26, of Fulton and Joe Norman, 28, of Laurel. Both are engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Bogus and Norman say they plan to attend the Orioles' Opening Day game April 6 with a group of 40 friends and are looking for an alternative to their pregame socializing in bars near Camden Yards, such as Pickles Pub and Sliders.

Those bars, Bogus said, are "just a zoo on Opening Day."

They hope to persuade the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority to lift the no-tailgating policy at Camden Yards and designate one or two parking lots for grilling and alcohol consumption. Tailgating is permitted in designated parking lots at M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens play.

"Last year, we started to realize some of us are getting a little older and having kids," Norman said Friday. "And we started to think it would be nice to have a more family-friendly environment."

As of Wednesday night, 129 people had joined the three-day-old Facebook campaign. The goal, Bogus and Norman said, is to gauge the level of interest in tailgating among Orioles fans. If there is enough response, they hope to mount an email campaign to get the Orioles and the MSA to allow tailgating Opening Day, and perhaps on weekends throughout the season.

But it would appear the Facebook group faces an uphill battle in persuading the Orioles to rescind their no-tailgating policy, which is part of the club's lease agreement with the MSA.

"We pride ourselves on providing a family-friendly environment at Camden Yards," Orioles spokeswoman Monica Barlow said. "And we will not request an amendment to the lease agreement we have with the MSA."

Tailgating policies vary throughout Major League Baseball.

Some clubs, such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, prohibit tailgating at games. Others, such as the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies, allow it in designated lots, but vary in whether they permit grilling and alcohol consumption.

Bogus said a visit to Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park two years ago for an Orioles-Phillies interleague game spurred his interest in having tailgating at Camden Yards.

"They have an amazing tailgate scene," he said of the Phillies. "We got there at 1 p.m. for a 7 o'clock game. It was a very open atmosphere. Even if you're not a fan of the other team, you're a fan of spending time outside and watching baseball and being with good people."

Permitting tailgating at Orioles games, he said, would also generate revenue for the Orioles and the MSA.

"It would be beneficial because a lot of people no longer park in the [Camden Yards] parking lots," he said. "They park in the satellite lots because they're cheaper."

Bogus and Norman also said that if the Orioles were to permit tailgating, it would stop fans from attempting to "illegally" tailgate. Instead, those fans would be in a designated tailgate area with portable toilets, trash receptacles and adequate security.


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