Glendening mum on stadium funds

January 18, 1995|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

On the eve of his inauguration, incoming Gov. Parris N. Glendening last night declined to say that he will work to keep funding in place to build a football stadium to attract an NFL team to Baltimore.

"We'll have to decide whether or not there's a chance for a team," he said last night at Camden Yards during his pre-inaugural reception. "That will be the difference. We're going to have to sit down and make an assessment whether or not we're going to get a team."

But he declined several opportunities to say he'd keep the funding in place in case a team would be interested in moving here years from now. "I can't answer any more specifically. I've got to make an assessment. These things are not yes or no," he said.

When he was asked how he'd make the assessment, he said, "We're going to bring everyone together and make an assessment whether or not we have a team."

When asked to identify "everyone" who'd help him make the assessment, he said, "I'm not prepared to go into this tonight. I can't go into it any further."

Although Orioles owner Peter Angelos failed in an attempt to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the new owner, Florida financier Malcolm Glazer, has a two-year "no-move" clause in his contract. If no funding is put in place there to build a new Tampa stadium in the next two years, there's a chance he could be interested in Baltimore if the funding is still in place at that time.

The Cincinnati Bengals also want a new stadium, but their lease doesn't expire until after the 1999 season.

The state established the funding for a $165 million football stadium in the same legislation that allowed the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The legislation provides for bonds to be sold and paid back with revenues from the stadium, Baltimore, and a special lottery.

The bonds cannot by law be sold until a team signs a lease. But about $20 million has accumulated that stadium opponents argue could be used for something else.

Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said the $20 million also is for paying off debt on the baseball stadium and renovating the south end of the Camden Yards warehouse.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. predicted a "lively discussion" on the topic of stadium funding in the General Assembly. Legislation to rescind the funding has been submitted every year since its passage but has never mustered much support.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday he doesn't think the funding is holding up any other state programs and should be left alone for now.

"My sense tells me that the time is just not right" to revoke the bonding authority, Schmoke said.

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