Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who spent most of the summer trying to choose a name for the new downtown ballpark, now wants to make sure that the stadium sign-makers get it right, too.
Schaefer has told the Maryland Stadium Authority that he wants major signs at the new ballpark to reflect the complete, uncut, unabridged name -- Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The governor also has informed stadium authority officials that he wants to see the ballpark's first and last names displayed in letters of equal size, and that they should not omit the word "at."
The instructions came after Schaefer read last month about a tentative design for the sign that will hang above the home-plate entrance of the state-financed ballpark. The design, which was rejected by the stadium authority, would have spelled out "Oriole Park" in 6-foot-tall, neon letters while relegating the "Camden Yards" to 3 1/2 -foot-tall letters. The word "at" was omitted.
This isn't the first time Schaefer has stuck up for Camden Yards. He pushed for it as the name of the ballpark before agreeing to a compromise that incorporated his choice and the favorite name of Orioles principal owner Eli S. Jacobs.
Reacting to the initial design of the home-plate sign, Schaefer said yesterday: "Mr. Jacobs and I agreed on a name: 'Oriole Park at Camden Yards.' I did not like the fact [the design] emphasized Orioles. . . . I objected very strenuously to it, because it was not what we agreed to."
The governor said he wanted the sign redesigned to give equal billing to the part he chose and the part chosen by Jacobs. "Oriole Park, small 'at,' Camden Yards -- equal. That's all," he said, adding that he didn't believe the Orioles or anybody else deliberately had tried to downplay the name he liked most.
"I do not think it was intentional. In fact, I know it wasn't intentional," the governor said.
Stadium authority executive director Bruce Hoffman said he hoped to have a new design for the sign soon. But he declined to say when or talk about the possible design of the new sign. "That's jumping ahead," he said. "I don't even have a comment now."
Although Schaefer objected strongly to the sign plans, his concerns apparently did not sway the stadium authority's vote. The stadium authority chairman, Herbert J. Belgrad, said the governor's views never came up at the Nov. 20 meeting at which the signs were discussed. Belgrad said he'd be surprised if any of the stadium authority members present even knew of Schaefer's reservations.
Instead, Belgrad said stadium authority member William K. Hellman first expressed doubts, and that finally the three members present -- Hellman, Belgrad and W. Robert Wallis -- decided unanimously that the design should be revised.
"It's true the governor may have been upset, but I'm sure the governor gets upset about any project that takes place," said Belgrad. "Besides, if he was upset, his feelings were consistent with every authority member who voted."
At the meeting, Belgrad said, the stadium authority members set a broad policy for all signs at the new ballpark -- they'll all carry the full name.
"It took us a long time to come up with that name. It has been the subject of discussion before, during and after [the naming talks]. Now that it's settled, it should be a closed issue," he said. "All signs should reflect the name we agreed on."
That was a tougher stand than even Schaefer had suggested.
"It's OK with me to have small signs [with one name or the other]," the governor said. "They're going to have signs, small signs. . . . But the [big] sign will say: 'Oriole Park at Camden Yards.' "