Neighbors don't feel blue over arrival of the Browns at Memorial Stadium Despite possible traffic, many say football team will rejuvenate area

November 10, 1995|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

For Memorial Stadium's neighbors, it'll be like old times when the Browns begin playing in their back yard, from the thrill of NFL fanfare to the agony of parking paucity.

But any inconveniences would be well worth it, some residents of neighboring Waverly, Ednor Gardens and Lakeside say.

"It's going to cause a little bit of a problem for people in the neighborhood, but to see NFL football come back, yeah, it'll be nice," William Greeson, 41, said recently at the Stadium Lounge on Greenmount Avenue in Waverly.

Like other area residents interviewed, he said the neighborhood would benefit despite accompanying traffic and parking problems.

The Browns would play their home games at Memorial Stadium in their first two seasons here while a 70,000-seat football field is being built at Camden Yards.

Despite the announced deal, Mr. Greeson also expressed skepticism that the Browns would come to Baltimore. He said he won't believe it until he sees an NFL game here.

"But, if it really happens, I think it's going to help a lot of businesses and residents here," Mr. Greeson said, welcoming news of the agreement.

Mr. Greeson, a lifelong resident of Waverly, recalled the excitement of football Sundays, when as a child he helped Baltimore Colts fans find parking spaces in his neighborhood.

Banners of various sports teams hung around him inside the Stadium Lounge, which is painted on the outside with emblems of the Orioles, Stallions and Bandits.

Tim Frazee, 43, who sat alongside Mr. Greeson at the bar, said he is counting on the NFL's presence to help revitalize the slumping business district on Greenmount Avenue. He said he was certain that the community's appearance would improve.

"They keep it cleaner, they keep the lawns mowed and there's more road maintenance," said Mr. Frazee, who used to live behind the stadium, as he recalled the work routinely done near the stadium when the Colts and Orioles were cherished tenants.

Colleen Kennedy, tending bar and wearing a Washington Redskins T-shirt, fondly remembered post-game gatherings at the bar.

"It was great. It was always packed in here," she said. "We haven't been busy at all with the CFL. Hopefully, it's going to be packed [for Browns games]. I might have to start working Sundays again."

News of the Browns was the second major boost the community has received this year.

The Johns Hopkins University last summer unveiled plans to develop long-vacant Eastern High School across the street from the stadium. The university's $40 million investment will create a 500,000-square-foot complex and bring 1,500 employees to the area.

Brian P. Hannon, former president of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association, said the community's luck is changing.

"These are two very big anchors. This is something to look forward to," Mr. Hannon said.

He said problems of rowdy fans, noise and traffic would be far outweighed by the NFL's presence. He said the Stallions have not been an asset to the community, failing to make the kind of impact that the NFL brings.

"The excitement is kind of neat," he said. "All the hoopla. It's something people are interested in just because of the presence, a heavy presence the next couple of years."

Jim Fendler, president of the Waverly Improvement Association, said he's looking forward to the Browns, but that most people have mixed feelings.

"There are neighbors that don't like the crowds that come with it and the trash," Mr. Fendler said. "I think we can live with that for two more years."

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