If William S. Shepard becomes governor, don't expect the state to build a stadium for a new National Football League team.
Shepard, the Republican nominee for governor, said yesterday that the state has more pressing needs, such as schools and roads.
"Why should the people of Maryland have to foot the bill for a sports stadium?" Shepard asked. "I think the state has other priorities besides sports."
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Shepard's opponent, has been the main booster of the two-stadium complex at Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore. Shepard has previously been critical of the baseball stadium that the state is now constructing.
Schaefer has said he supports building a domed football stadium, which officials of the Maryland Stadium Authority have said could run as high as $228 million.
Shepard's criticisms were echoed at a GOP press conference by another statewide Republican candidate, Larry Epstein, who is running for comptroller.
"I'd rather not have an NFL team if it means giving up schools . . . sewage systems and other things that are necessary for a decent life," Epstein said.
Epstein's opponent, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, has backed both the baseball stadium and the proposed football stadium.
The governor and comptroller are two of the three members on the state Board of Public Works, which must approve major construction projects.
The state has agreed to build a football stadium if the NFL grants the city a franchise. The league is expected to select two new cities for expansion next year.
Shepard and Epstein joined Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, and other Republican officials for a breakfast session to promote unity and plot strategy.
Bentley, the ranking Republican in the state, said yesterday that she would back Shepard for governor, even though she had urged Ross Z. Pierpont to run against him in the Republican primary. Shepard defeated Pierpont in the primary Sept. 11. Bentley also had criticized Shepard for selecting his wife, Lois, to run for lieutenant governor with him.
Yesterday, however, Bentley said that disagreement was behind them.
"We have to get Republicans to get elected," Bentley said. "After primaries, people don't go back and regurgitate what happened."
William Shepard downplayed the prior conflict with Bentley, saying he and Pierpont shared one goal all along: defeating Schaefer. And the officials agreed that primary battles are good for the Republican Party.
Joyce Terhes, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, praised the statewide team of Shepard, Epstein and Edward Blanton Jr., candidate for attorney general, saying it was the best ticket the party had assembled since 1978.