14 sites proposed for NFL training Team seeks free land for $12 million complex

February 17, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Brad Snyder contributed to this article.

While Gov. Parris N. Glendening and state legislators continue to grapple over financing for a $200 million football stadium, the city's new NFL team is pushing toward the goal line on plans for a new headquarters and training complex.

The Maryland Stadium Authority yesterday received 14 proposals from the city and surrounding counties for a 20-acre, year-round complex complete with five natural-grass football fields.

The former Cleveland Browns intend to invest about $12 million to construct the new facility, according to stadium authority documents.

As a condition, however, the team is seeking a donation of land for the training facility, property that could add up to another $3 million to $4 million in incentives.

"The key will be whether they can get free land, because there's no more money in the deal," said John Moag, chairman of the stadium authority. "That's why state-owned sites in Baltimore County, in Owings Mills, along with any sites the city may offer, may be at the top of the pack."

Although the team will pay to build the complex, it will be owned by the stadium authority. Neither the stadium authority nor team officials will review the proposals until early next week, said Bruce H. Hoffman, the authority's executive director. Details, including the possibility of the sites being donated, were not released.

Of the proposals, perhaps the most unusual is the city's offer of the land under the Flag House Courts, one of four public housing complexes the city intends to raze. The city also briefly considered offering the team the vacant 21.5-acre site of Lafayette Courts, sources said.

Hoffman declined to reveal whether the city also submitted Memorial Stadium for the new training complex. City Planning Department officials involved in the site preparation could not be reached for comment.

Offers on sites in Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, Howard and Anne Arundel counties also were submitted. Hoffman said the 14 proposals may contain multiple sites.

With 11, Baltimore County appears to have the most potential sites, said Teresa Awalt, marketing director for the county's economic development group. Of those sites, four are owned by the state and the county, and the rest are currently in private hands.

In Harford County, economic development officials and FRP Development Corp. offered a 22-acre site in Edgewood that is part of a planned business park in a recently designated enterprise zone.

"We're very interested in it," said David H. deVilliers Jr., president of FRP Development, which is planning the $52 million Lakeside Business Park, a 135-acre tract slated to contain as much as 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space by 2001. "We took the state-of-the-art facility they have now and factored our site into it, and determined it would work."

The location of the training facility likely will be decided after political maneuvering by the members of the General Assembly.

Some lawmakers have made very informal pitches to have the facility located in their districts. The facility likely will be used as an inducement to get an undecided legislator to vote for the stadium deal, or as a reward for a legislator who has been an ardent supporter.

The former Browns' existing training campus, a 13-acre complex in Berea, Ohio, contains an administrative building and a field house totaling more than 140,000 square feet, four outdoor practice fields and a 70-yard indoor AstroTurf practice field.

The 5-year-old Berea complex also contains a 6,000-square-foot weight room, Jacuzzi, three whirlpools, classrooms, theater, television studio, restaurant-style kitchen, basketball court, two racquetball courts and locker rooms for players and staff, the documents stated.

"It's the most beautiful practice facility in the United States and one we will replicate here once we find the land," team owner Art Modell said at a news conference Thursday. "But at this point, we have no idea where we'll be."

Design work for the new complex, which will take roughly a year to construct, will be done by HOK Sports Facilities Group of Kansas City, Mo.

In the interim, the team will be housed and train at the former Baltimore Colts complex in Owings Mills.

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