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Orioles help lift spirits of Camden Yards vendors with Opening Day win

Vendors and concession stand owners inside and outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards Monday were equally positive about a strong Opening Day bringing in the cash.

A re-energized team and beautiful weather made for a particularly busy home opener as the streets around the ballpark were flooded with fans in orange.

And a sellout crowd of 46,593 watched the Baltimore Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers for their fourth straight victory.

Vinny Wheatley from Laurel set up his sausage and hot dog stand on Conway Street early Monday morning, and said he had made more than $200 in sales by 1 p.m.

“This season is already starting off exciting,” said Wheatley, who has had his stand on Conway Street for 11 years. “The weather was more like 45 degrees last year, so this is one of the best openers in years,” he said.

Watch an audio slideshow from Opening Day

Last season, the Orioles sported the worst record in the major leagues until Buck Showalter was named manager in July and salvaged the remainder of the season.

“This is the perfect confluence of events,” said Maryland Stadium Authority Executive Director Michael Frenz.

The weather, the Orioles’ strong beginning to the season with a 3-0 record and the changes to the ballpark made the home opener an active business day, Frenz said before the game.

“With a new concessionaire, the exciting changes are representative of the Orioles’ new partnership,” he said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority, which paid for the ballpark’s original construction and this season’s renovations, gets less than 10 percent of ballpark concession revenue. The Orioles pay 7 percent of net admissions revenue plus a percentage of parking, advertising, concessions and club-level admission in rent each year. Since 1992, the team has paid more than $111 million, according to the authority.

But the rest of the concessions breakdown is not released publicly, Orioles spokesman Greg Bader said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Inside the ballpark, concession stands were faring well with throngs of Orioles fans lining up for food and merchandise.

Ying Mart Kaew set up her new lemonade stand inside the park on Eutaw Street this season, and said she was glad about the business they were getting already. At $5 each, the stand had sold approximately 120 drinks by 3 p.m., three hours after the gates opened, she said. Roughly, the stand brought in $600 before the game started.

“This will bring in millions of dollars of impact for the city and the state,” said Terry Hasseltine, director of sports marketing for the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing. “The energy is through the roof, and it’s a perfect day,” he said.

Orioles’ prices on concession items held steady for 2011, even though ticket prices rose. An 18-ounce beer, for example, costs $6.25, the same as last year.

Overall, the Orioles rank No. 17 out of the 30 Major League Baseball teams on Team Marketing Report’s 2011 Major League Baseball Fan Cost Index. The Orioles were No. 18 last season. An average family of four would spend about $174.10 at an Orioles game this season, up 1.1 percent from last season, according to the index. That cost includes four adult average-priced tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one vehicle, two game programs and two baseball hats.

A 16-ounce soft drink at Camden Yards is $2, while a program is $5 and a cap is $15.

T-shirts and hats were the most popular items that Joe Ensey sold at merchandise shop The Birdcage. Ensey and his aunt, have manned the stand inside the ballpark along Eutaw Street for years. This was Ensey’s fifth year, while his aunt has worked the stand for 12 years. Most of the store’s Opening Day-marketed merchandise is sold out, and Ensey said he’s seen at least a couple hundred fans stop by his shop before the game.

“I hope it stays like this for the rest of the season,” Ensey said. “We started out slow today, but we just got hammered.”