Washington has eyes for Bullets, Caps, too

January 27, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer Staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

Camden Yards may be the favorite of some Baltimore legislators, but Abe Pollin apparently is looking at least to one other location for a state-of-the-art sports arena.

Pollin's financial advisers, Legg Mason Inc., met Friday with Washington business leaders looking into the possibility of an arena project there.

Jerry Sachs, USAir Arena president, and an adviser to Pollin, wouldn't describe the Washington group further, but sources indicated they represented Federal City Council, a group of civic-minded businesses.

The business group sought the meeting, Sachs said, "to understand what the arena concept is all about."

"As I understand it, they just wanted to get educated with regard to the potential for a facility in an urban setting," Sachs said yesterday.

He added that Legg Mason, a Baltimore-based investment company, had "developed a concept" for Pollin, and that certain elements of the plan were discussed with the Washington group.

Ken Sparks, executive vice president of Federal City Council, did not return phone calls to his office yesterday.

Last week's meeting is the latest sign that Pollin is looking for a new home for his NHL Capitals and NBA Bullets, and an indication that the search isn't limited to Baltimore. The teams play at USAir Arena in Landover. Pollin owns the 20-year-old building, which lacks many luxury amenities and is inaccessible by mass transportation.

Talk of a new arena comes as debate is increasing in Annapolis over the prospects for an arena at Camden Yards, next to Oriole Park. That plan is supported by some Baltimore legislators, but faces a number of obstacles, including complications posed by the state's pursuit of an NFL team.

The parcel on which an arena could be built at Camden Yards is reserved for a football stadium if the city lures an NFL team. Maryland Stadium Authority officials have had talks with a number of teams said to be interested in moving, and chairman Herbert J. Belgrad met in New York last week with Los Angeles Rams officials.

The outcome of those talks should be clear soon, because Gov. William Donald Schaefer has given the stadium authority until Feb. 15 to secure a commitment from a relocating team.

Sachs said he didn't attend last week's meeting with Washington officials and did not know precisely what information they were seeking. He added that he did not believe the group represented Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. A spokesman for Kelly said this week that talks with Pollin about an arena are continuing.

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