March 28, 1990 12:00 PM

The arches curve like lazy fly balls, and the grandstand puts fans nearly close enough to hear the pop of bubble gum on the base paths. When the BALTIMORE ORIOLES open the 1992 season in their new stadium—on real grass—all that will be missing from an old-fashioned take-me-out-to-the-ballgame experience will be the reek of a 5-cent cigar.

In designing the $75 million, 46,000-seat ballpark now under construction, the Kansas City, Mo., sports-architecture group of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum fouled-off such ’80s vogues as AstroTurf, domes and the concrete-doughnut look to create instead a downtown magnet. Using an airy steel skeleton clothed in brick, the designers snuggled the structure into an existing street grid near the harbor. The result is a classic asymmetrical park with a short, 321-foot right-field foul line and a long view of the Baltimore skyline. Writes architecture critic Paul Goldberger: “This is a building capable of wiping out in a single gesture 50 years of wretched stadium design.” Some left-handed power could bring the Orioles a pennant, but Baltimore already has a winner.

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