Coliseum seeks federal money

February 02, 1994|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

A manager of the earthquake-damaged Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum said yesterday that the aging stadium needs immediate federal repair money if the Raiders are going to be able to play there next season.

Damage to the stadium -- which has fueled speculation that the team may relocate, possibly to Baltimore -- was more extensive than originally believed, said Jay Hagerman, general manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum & Sports Arena.

"It is clear that the damage is far more than cosmetic," Hagerman said yesterday.

Some Coliseum officials have said the damage is so bad that the facility may need to be demolished. But Hagerman said that immediate federal assistance of at least $35 million could have the historic structure repaired in time for the next NFL season, which begins in September.

A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said money for such projects will be available, although the necessary damage assessment may have to wait until roads, schools and other structures are examined.

Hagerman said he notified the Raiders of the damage, but has not heard back from team executives. The team has a short-term lease on the stadium and has not indicated to him any desire to move, he said.

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad has acknowledged that the Raiders are among several teams he has had contact with about a possible move to Baltimore, but he declined to discuss the talks.

He also has met with an official of the Los Angeles Rams, a team that also has seen its attendance dwindle. The Rams' home, Anaheim Stadium, was damaged in the earthquake, but less extensively than theColiseum and is expected to be repaired in time for the California Angels baseball season.

Baltimore, which lost out in the NFL's expansion last year, is offering to build a publicly financed stadium adjacent to Oriole Park.

Raiders spokesmen declined to comment on any of the speculation. "That's just a rumor," spokesman Mike Taylor said of a possible move.

Maryland State Sen. John Pica, chairman of Baltimore's delegation and a proponent of football here, said: "It's very likely that one of the unfortunate results of the earthquake is that one of the teams may move. That's a terrible way of capturing a team, but that may be the way we get a team."

Maryland lawmakers have negotiated a Feb. 14 deadline with Gov. William Donald Schaefer for securing a commitment by an NFL team. Schaefer has said that after that date he will consider embracing the move of the Redksins to Laurel, something that could deter a team from coming to Baltimore.

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