Although the Baltimore Orioles haven’t played October baseball at Camden Yards for the longest time, the team is riding into the American League Division Series coming off a 101-win regular season that dreams are made of. But fans coming to cheer on the Birds could have a front-row seat to a different sort of pressure: finding a parking space near the ballpark.
The first game of the series is slated to be played Saturday, the same day as the sold out Billy Joel-Stevie Nicks concert at neighboring M&T Bank Stadium. Doors for that are set to open at 5:30 p.m., with music beginning at 7 p.m., creating a potential swarm of people.
It remained unclear Tuesday what time the Orioles might play. An MLB spokesperson said game times will not be determined until the completion of the wild-card series.
Fox, which owns the rights to show the ALDS, is currently listing intended game times for Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m. It broadcasts Big Ten football on Saturdays, and has as its marquee matchup this week the Maryland at No. 4 Ohio State game scheduled for noon. The network could potentially move the baseball game to FS1.
Fox officials had not responded to requests for clarification at the time of publication. The Orioles will play the winner between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers, who are playing a best-of-three series in the American League wild-card round.
State officials are bracing for the busy weekend — Mexican singer Carin León is also performing at CFG Bank Arena on Saturday evening — but also appear to have no inkling about how the schedule will play out.
“There are a lot of activities occurring in the area that is taxing our partners. So we’re working to better understand the staffing needs,” said Vernon Conaway Jr., vice president of security for the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns and oversees Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.
“Until we get the time of the first game, the Orioles home game, we can start planning off of that. We’re just waiting,” Conaway told members of the stadium authority board Tuesday.
Conaway said the stadium authority does have a “model” for handling major events at both downtown stadiums on the same day. Back on July 29, the Ravens hosted an open practice for fans to attend in the early afternoon, followed by an Orioles-Yankees baseball game that night.
“We have a model that’s worked in the past,” Conaway said. “It’s going to rely on communications, coordination and cooperation by all the partners. And if we have that like we had July 29, we will have another successful day, and I expect that.”
The Ravens announced a crowd of fewer than 20,000 on that blisteringly hot day, though, with the bottom rung of the stadium not even close to filled. The concert figures to draw a much larger crowd — and one that may arrive early to experience the city or tailgate.
The Camden Yards complex has only about 4,000 parking spaces, and the leases for both the Ravens and Orioles stipulate that the teams work together to ensure maximum parking is available for both sets of fans.
“This requires the O’s and Ravens to cooperate and help maximize use of the Camden Yards complex for the benefit of the citizens of Maryland who actually own the complex,” said Tom Kelso, the former Maryland Stadium Authority chairman for eight years before Maryland Gov. Wes Moore inserted Craig Thompson into the role.
“If the game is at 1 and the concert at 7, both can be done,” Kelso hypothesized.
The Ravens negotiated a clause in their recent lease extension that allows them to keep revenue from nonfootball events such as this concert. A source close to the Ravens who was not authorized to speak publicly said the team is in contact with all parties involved in the scheduling conflict. Images posted to social media Tuesday showed the field being prepared for the concert.
City officials are bracing for the busy weekend, too — Baltimore’s Department of Transportation encouraged drivers to plan ahead for heavy traffic and delays getting around town.
“Fans attending any of these events on Saturday & Sunday are encouraged to come early and stay late to avoid possible traffic congestion and delays,” said a DOT spokesperson in an emailed statement. They also noted that transportation enforcement officers will work in tandem with Baltimore Police to help direct traffic flow downtown.
“Those attending stadium events who do not have passes for the stadium lots are encouraged to use parking garages in the downtown area and avoid parking in nearby neighborhoods, as all posted parking restrictions and residential permit parking regulations in the vicinity of the stadiums will be strictly enforced for everyone’s safety. DOT encourages patrons to utilize mass transit if possible, including the Light Rail, Metro Subway, Local Bus, or the Charm City Circulator,” the statement continued.
Messages to concert promoter Live Nation, which is returning to M&T after a six-year hiatus, and representatives for Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks have not been returned.
Baltimore Banner reporters Andy Kostka, Daniel Zawodny, Jonas Shaffer and Pam Wood contributed to this article.