Speros hopeful on state funds

April 01, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer John Frece contributed to this article.

Jim Speros, owner of the Baltimore Football Club, should know soon whether state funds will be used to help renovate 41-year-old Memorial Stadium.

After meeting with Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in Annapolis this week, he said he expects to receive state support.

"It's been accepted in my eyes," Speros said of his request for renovation monies. "I'm confident we'll get help from the state."

The $2 million request is included in the version of the budget passed by the state Senate, but not in a House version. A joint conference committee is meeting in Annapolis today to resolve budget differences and could decide whether to approve the money for Memorial Stadium.

Frederick W. Puddester, a deputy chief of staff to Glendening, said the governor "wants to work with legislators to get the emergency money."

Beyond this year, however, the governor has made no commitment, Puddester said.

Speros had been seeking much more. He wanted $10 million over a four-year period -- including $3 million in 1995 -- to prepare the stadium for the Canadian Football League's 1997 Grey Cup title game.

The $2 million is money the Stadium Authority had targeted for the arrival of an NFL team in Baltimore. If the money comes from the authority, it would come with a contingency.

"[That is] if the legislature doesn't cut or spend the authority's money," Schmoke said.

Schmoke called Thursday's session with Glendening a productive one in which the governor indicated his support for the CFL team.

"The governor had a long sheet on the economic impact of the CFL," Schmoke said. "He said he would do all he could do to help.

"They will have to work out some document so the Stadium Authority will have some say-so in how the money is spent."

John Moag, new chairman of the authority, underscored that theme. "We don't want anyone touching a penny of our money unless we control how it's spent," said Moag, who is continuing Baltimore's efforts to lure an NFL team.

He said the $2 million "may be a good investment," and praised Speros.

"What Jim has done in this town is very impressive," Moag said. "He ought to be congratulated, and he ought to be helped. The facility has real problems."

City Councilman Bill Cunningham said the authority should help pay for renovations to the stadium, which is in his 3rd District.

"I honestly believe that the authority owes, if nothing else, the neighborhoods," Cunningham said. "The money would go a long way toward fulfilling that obligation."

It is possible the authority may soon take control of the stadium and assume responsibility for its maintenance. Moag said he has had discussions with Glendening and Schmoke about taking over the stadium.

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