Oriole Park outscores Camden Yards in field of two for stadium Poll respondents say name choice is Jacobs' THE SUN POLL

September 15, 1991|By Mark Hyman

Given a choice between the two most discussed names for the new downtown baseball ballpark, Marylanders support Oriole Park over Camden Yards.

By a lesser margin, they also prefer that Baltimore Orioles principal owner Eli S. Jacobs select the name for his team's future home field, not Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Those are some of the results of The Sun Poll of 587 Maryland residents who were asked last week what the new ballpark should be named and who should have the loudest voice in naming it.

Of those questioned, 54 percent preferred Oriole Park to 37 percent for Camden Yards when asked to choose between the two.

When asked who should pick the name, respondents favored Mr. Jacobs to Mr. Schaefer, 39 percent to 31 percent. Nineteen percent said neither should pick the name and 3 percent said both should decide.

Alberta Lockwood of Wheaton backed Mr. Jacobs.

"Why shouldn't he?" she said. "He owns the team. He's the one with all the money."

Informed that the state, not the team owner, is paying for virtually all of the $105.4 million ballpark, she did not change her mind. "The state is fine, doing all the things they do," she said. "But sometimes it's nice to have an individual do something, not the state or national government."

The talks on the ballpark name between Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Schaefer have been going on for months, and apparently they are deadlocked, with Mr. Jacobs reportedly favoring Oriole Park and Mr. Schaefer backing Camden Yards, the name for the historic site of the old B&O railroad yard where the ballpark will stand. The 15-year ballpark lease states that the name will be selected jointly by the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority, whose boss is Mr. Schaefer.

The results did not all favor Mr. Jacobs. When respondents were free to choose any name for the ballpark, Camden Yards defeated Oriole Park, 19 percent to 9 percent.

The most popular pick, however, was "Don't know," the response of 41 percent.

The Sun Poll was conducted by KPC Research of Charlotte, N.C. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percent.

Although the overall poll results favored Mr. Jacobs' position, that support varied widely throughout the state.

In the Baltimore area, for instance, the most devoted Orioles fans (those who said they were strong or moderate supporters of the team) sided with Mr. Schaefer. They narrowly preferred that the name of the ballpark be selected by the governor -- 36 percent to 33 percent for Mr. Jacobs. They also agreed with the governor that the best name is Camden Yards, which defeated Oriole Park, 52 percent to 43 percent.

Away from Baltimore, the results tipped toward Mr. Jacobs. In the Washington area, 42 percent of strong and moderate Orioles fans said he should name the ballpark to 27 percent for the governor.

In Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and other regions, the tally was more lopsided for Mr. Jacobs -- 56 percent in favor of the owner's choosing the name to 24 percent for the governor.

In both areas outside Baltimore, Oriole Park was the winner among fans. In the Maryland suburbs of Washington, 63 percent favored Oriole Park to Camden Yards, which received 28 percent. In areas outside Washington and Baltimore, Oriole Park an even bigger winner, 68 percent to 28 percent.

Mr. Jacobs' supporters in the poll gave a range of explanations for saying his opinion should count most. Some said the ballpark was built expressly for Mr. Jacobs' team, so the owner logically should have his way. Others said they sided with Mr. Jacobs, in part, because they were angry with Mr. Schaefer for reasons not related to the ballpark.

"I don't think the governor has done a good job. Some of the comments he has made about [the Eastern Shore] I objected to very much," said Laverne Dize of Crisfield.

Mrs. Dize, 67, said she knew little about the Orioles owner, except that "he's the one who is paying the salaries. The one who is putting up the money should have control," she said. "When the players go to a hotel, who do you think pays the bills? He does."

Among those who want Mr. Schaefer to pick the name, some cited the governor's role in helping get the ballpark built.

"He's the one who wanted it. He pushed it through," said Mack McIntire of Silver Spring. "He got a lot of opposition, but he hung in there."

William Mack of Towson also supported the governor.

"Since the people of Maryland are the ultimate owners of this property, their representative should have a greater say than the owners of the Orioles. Who knows? They could pull an Irsay and move away," he said.

In fact, several respondents said they were opposed to Oriole Park as the name because of the possibility that the Orioles might be moved out of town some day. Several cited the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League, who in 1984 were moved to Indianapolis by owner Robert Irsay.

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