Sign Antics

February 08, 1992

What is it about signs for the new ballpark that causes otherwise intelligent people to go bonkers? Bad enough that the naming process was a silly exercise in egomania. Then there came a tug of war over the size of each precious word gracing the main entrance. Now we have two of the city's top elected officials behaving like children whose mother has briefly left them alone with the cookie jar. Plus city traffic engineers who panic when someone notices the ballpark's whole jawbreaking name is not on a temporary highway sign.

In the absence of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean refused at a Board of Estimates meeting to approve a contract for electronic signs the city long ago promised to put up to warn motorists of ballpark tieups. Let "what's-his-name" [Mrs. McLean was referring to Bruce Hoffman, the executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority for the past three years] find the money for it. This was just a sophomoric stunt, as they were both aware, since both politicians know the mayor has the votes on the board to undo their mischief.

Not to be outdone, some traffic engineers plan to cover over an advisory sign that directs motorists to "Camden Yards/Stadium," which was ordered before the ballpark was officially named Orioles Park at Camden Yards in an historic compromise between the Monarch of Maryland and the Oligarch of the Orioles. The sign will be replaced soon enough, long before opening day. The new one, we're told, will say "Orioles Park" and "Camden Yards" on separate lines, as if they are two different places.

How about a new directional sign downtown: City Hall/Political Playpen?

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