Oriole Park at Camden Yards fastest to reach 50 million fans

BALTIMORE -- The balloons went up and the confetti came down, sparking a celebration that was 17 years in the making.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards hit the 50 million mark in attendance Tuesday night, reaching the milestone quicker than any ballpark in baseball history. The stadium opened in 1992 as the exclusive home of the Baltimore Orioles, who moved in after residing at Memorial Stadium since 1954.

The day began with the Orioles standing 2,861 fans short of 50 million.

"We were on cell phones, and as soon as we reached 2,861, we targeted a fan at Gate H," said Greg Bader, director of communications for the Orioles.

Kevin Gracie, a 24-year-old student at the University of Baltimore School of Law, was the lucky entrant. He won $50,000, season tickets for five years and was introduced to the crowd before the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox.

"The $50,000 is great, and getting the two season tickets is amazing," said Gracie, of Ellicott City. "My buddy bought my ticket. I was going to switch tickets with him in line."

Only Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium have drawn more fans since 1992. Camden Yards was the model for many stadiums that followed: an old fashioned ballpark built in the middle of the downtown district.

The team will reach another milestone later in this homestand. The Orioles entered Tuesday's game just 157,273 fans shy of reaching 100 million mark since the team's arrival in Baltimore. The designated 100 millionth fan, expected to arrive during the upcoming weekend series against the Yankees, will receive $100,000 and season tickets for five years.