State OKs $500,000 for CFLs

October 20, 1994|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore CFLs owner Jim Speros finally won a vote of confidence -- and the promise of state money -- from Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday in Annapolis.

Speros watched as the Board of Public Works, led by the governor, gave preliminary approval to his request for $500,000 to renovate Memorial Stadium for his football team.

The board, made up of the governor, comptroller and treasurer, votes on state contracts and funding requests.

Schaefer said he held up approval to see if Speros would be successful during his first year with the Canadian Football League team.

"I wanted you to prove you could do this, and I think you've done a marvelous job," Schaefer told him. "Your enthusiasm has sold me."

The approval appeared to be in doubt last week, when the governor publicly questioned whether the CFLs really needed the combination loan and grant from the state. Schaefer has been a major supporter of efforts to bring an NFL team to Baltimore.

Speros met with the governor over a 90-minute lunch on Monday. The meeting apparently cleared the way for yesterday's thumbs-up, which was granted on the condition that the Baltimore Board of Estimates signs off on the deal. Approval from the city is expected, because Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke supports the plan.

The state board is expected to take another vote on the project after the city acts, but that vote is a formality, said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's chief of staff.

The arrangement calls for a $400,000 loan, guaranteed by the city, and a $100,000 grant from the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

The money will go toward replacing the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium.

Mark L. Wasserman, the economic development secretary, said

he expected to secure all the required approvals by next month.

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