The politicians have caught spring fever, and it means more than just watching baseball players round the base paths.
Victory could mean a coveted minor league baseball team for either Anne Arundel or Prince George's County. But as the game enters the seventh-inning stretch, the visiting team has taken the lead.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, in a meeting Thursday, endorsed building a stadium for a possible Triple A team in Prince George's. No one, however, was at the meeting from Anne Arundel County.
"I didn't know anything about it," said Annapolis Mayor Alfred Hopkins. "Nobody invited me. I'm available whenever they want tomeet. I support it . . . baseball is my favorite game. I'd even keep score for them."
Hopkins wasn't the only player not invited to Schaefer's meeting, which was attended by Delegate Charles J. Ryan, D-Prince George's, and Peter Kirk, a majority partner in the baseball enterprise trying to bring a team to the area.
Sam Minnitte, director of the county office of economic development, said he didn't hear about the meeting until the day after. "I'm not really sure where it sits right now," he said. "It is really in the hands of the governor's office, because they have taken the lead."
But Annapolis Alderman Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2, who is trying hard to get a team in the county, said he thinks nothing islost because of Schaefer's endorsement. "I figure that as long as the issue is still open, we'll keep trying," he said. "The citydoesn't have any money, but we have the land."
Kirk, who heads the Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, said Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties are considered front-runners. He said plans won'tmove forward until April 1, when the Triple A committee is scheduledto narrow its list from 14 to six or 10 groups vying for the two expansion teams that could begin play in two or three years.
Kirk said that if his partnership, which also owns the Class A Frederick Keysand Class AA Hagerstown Suns, is still alive after the cut, he wouldhave to choose between Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.
The committee is expected to announced its expansion winners in mid-July.
He said the selection would be done in conjunction with localand state politicians, mainly because he is seeking a public-privatepartnership to pay the estimated $9 million for a 10,000-seat stadium.
The site Schaefer endorsed in Prince George's County is in Bowie, near routes 50 and 301. The site Annapolis and county officials prefer is near Interstate 97, south of Crownsville on land owned by thecity.
"Nobody has made any commitments yet," Kirk said Friday. "The two locations are both terrific. I wouldn't read anything into thefact that there was no one at the meeting from the (AnneArundel) county. They have been very supportive."
But Minnitte wasn't so sure."Prince George's has been in the hunt pretty strongly," he said. "Mr. Kirk was thoughtful enough to want to come to (Anne Arundel), so wethought, 'let's take a run at it.' But right now, I don't know what's going on."
Hopkins said Kirk met with him two months ago. "They came to a meeting to see how I felt," he said. "It wasn't necessary to meet. I'm a big supporter. We have a piece of ground in the county that the city owns. I have offered them this piece of ground.
"I told him I would help in any way that I could," Hopkins said, but adding that offer didn't include money. "No, I can't do that. . . . We would have to work out some sort of agreement."