When the Orioles welcome fans back to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for Thursday’s home opener, it’ll mark a milestone in the return to normalcy.
It’s been 18 1/2 months since spectators took in a game at the ballpark, the last time being Sept. 22, 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Orioles played without fans during the shortened 2020 season and opened 2021 with a six-game road trip through Boston and New York.
They return home Thursday to face the Red Sox at 3:05 pm ET, free on MLB.TV. Here is everything you need to know about the game:
How can I watch?
The game will be televised on MASN and MLB.TV and broadcast on radio on 105.7 The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network.
Or, of course, you might be attending in person.
Just how many fans are attending?
The Orioles are allowing 25 percent capacity crowds to begin the year, which comes out to around 11,000 fans per game. Tickets for the home opener were available exclusively to Birdland Membership holders.
Gates open at 2:05 p.m ET., with pregame ceremonies scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.
Is it safe?
The Orioles are instituting many new measures for this season to ensure ballpark safety, many of which mirror those taken at their Spring Training home of Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., this spring. Tickets will be assigned only in pod seating, with pods of two, four and six available, to practice social distancing. Also, masks are required at all times unless fans are actively eating or drinking in their ticketed seats.
The ballpark will be entirely cashless in 2021. Fans can pay with debit or credit card or exchange cash for money cards at two reverse ATMs, which can then be used at food and merchandise stands. Fans can also mobile order using the MLB Ballpark app. Tickets will only be distributed digitally this season.
Will there be any restrictions?
The Orioles are not requiring fans to be vaccinated or produce a negative COVID-19 test result to attend games, but the club is strongly encouraging all Baltimoreans to do so with a public-facing promotional campaign. The club does ask fans who are not feeling well to stay home.
At the park, outside items will be limited. Fans are not allowed to bring personal bags, food or water into the stadium.
What’s planned for the pregame festivities?
• Oriole players and coaches will run in from center field during introductions on the famed orange carpet, restarting the tradition that was halted temporarily in 2020.
• Current Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, the former mayor, will throw out the first pitch simultaneously.
• West Baltimore musician Zadia will perform the national anthem from the Center Field Roof Deck, and a flyover from the 104th Fighter Squadron of Maryland Air National Guard 175th Wing will follow her performance.
• The club will also recognize frontline workers as part of the pregame ceremonies and welcome fans back to the ballpark with a video tribute featuring an original poem by Baltimore-based poet and author Kondwani Fidel.
Who is the 10th man?
The club's traditional “10th Man” honor will now be forever known as “Mo Gaba’s Fan of the Year,” in remembrance of 2021 Orioles Hall of Fame inductee Mossila “Mo” Gaba. This year, all fans throughout Birdland will be celebrated as Mo Gaba’s Fan of the Year, in recognition of their unwavering support that fuels the team each and every day. The entire crowd will shout the ceremonial "Play Ball!" prior to first pitch.
What’s new at the ballpark this year?
• Charm City Diner, presented by Pepsi: Featuring a selection of roast beef sandwiches, patty melts, chili cheese dogs and gravy fries. Located on the Lower Level Concourse at Section 72.
• Vida Taco Bar: The Orioles are bringing one of Baltimore’s favorite taco experiences to the ballpark, featuring a selection of tacos, nachos and margaritas. Located on the Lower Level Concourse at Section 29.
• The Bird’s Nest: Although many aspects of the gameday experience will be different this season, fans will still have the opportunity to interact with the Oriole Bird at The Bird's Nest, an all-new experience on the Center Field Roof Deck. Fans can purchase and reserve a time slot for a photo with the Bird at Orioles.com/Bird. All proceeds will benefit the Orioles Charitable Foundation.