Later this month, something new and much anticipated will be added to the downtown ballpark under construction at Camden Yards.
Last night, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said he expects a decision soon on the long-awaited name of the $105.4 million ballpark that will be home to the Baltimore Orioles next season.
"I would think within two weeks we'll have a decision. I don't think it could go much beyond that," the governor said at Memorial Stadium where he participated in a ceremony honoring Desert Storm veterans.
Apparently, the next weeks will be busy ones for the ballpark namers -- the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority. The two sides have held some preliminary talks about a name. But the two most influential players in the naming process -- Schaefer and Orioles principal owner Eli S. Jacobs -- haven't discussed the matter yet.
Schaefer and Jacobs met for lunch in Baltimore last Friday, the governor said last night. He wouldn't reveal what he discussed with the Orioles owner, but said the name of the ballpark was not mentioned.
The governor asked for the meeting last month after reading in a newspaper article that Jacobs plans to consider offers to sell the team. Schaefer and Jacobs met again last night, chatting in the Orioles' owner's private box during the Orioles-Tigers game.
Choosing a name for the ballpark has not been a priority issue for the Orioles and the Stadium Authority, who have been at work on the ballpark since they agreed on a 15-year lease on May 2, 1988. Of late, however, stadium authority officials have said the name has to be picked quickly so that signs can be designed, ordered and hoisted onto the new ballpark by next Opening Day.
Last night, Schaefer acknowledged the name has to be picked "relatively soon" for the project to stay on schedule. He said one of his first moves will be to talk over the list of possible names with stadium authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad.
"You have to have input from the Stadium Authority. Belgrad has to be consulted," he said.
Among the suggested names for the new ballpark, four have seemed to have garnered the most support. They are Camden Yards, Babe Ruth Stadium, Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park.
Schaefer said he'll have more to say about the new ballpark and other issues involving the Orioles at a news conference that will be set up "very soon."
One secret the governor wasn't giving away last night was his personal favorite in the ballpark name game.
Asked if he has a preference, Schaefer replied, "Do I? Yeah!"
Asked to reveal it, he answered, "Nope, nope, nope."