State approves deal to reduce seating at Camden Yards

Maryland's Board of Public Works accepted a deal Wednesday that will allow the Maryland Stadium Authority to start clearing seats out of Oriole Park at Camden Yards to make way for a new concession company and wider seats.

The details of the new arrangement were reported last week, and could also include the replacement of up to 12 skyboxes with larger party suites. The changes will reduce seating at the state-owned park by more than 2,300, to 45,971.

Wednesday's deal permits about $1.5 million in improvements, including alterations to the railings and platforms at the park.

The changes are intended to draw more people to the games. Attendance has sagged in recent years, with 1.73 million people attending this year, down from an all-time high of 3.71 million in 1997.

Separately, the board approved an agreement that will let the state share in profits from advertising behind home plate — settling a lease dispute over a form of stadium advertising that did not exist 20 years ago when the team negotiated its lease.

The terms of the deal net $913,424 in back payments from the team to the state and prompted congratulatory remarks from Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is a member of the board.

"It just caught my eye because everyone else who negotiates with [Orioles owner Peter] Angelos gets nothing," he said.

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