NFL stadium may be 'dome-ready' Adding roof later remains an option

February 23, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

There still may be a dome in Baltimore's future.

Even though the city's new football team and the Maryland Stadium Authority plan to build an open-air stadium at Camden Yards, the state is considering incorporating the requirements for a roof into the structure's base.

Doming the structure would add greatly to the events that can be held, from circuses to conventions. It also could be lucrative: Under their agreement, the NFL team and state will split the profits of non-NFL events at the stadium.

"There are a lot of pluses. We don't have a dome anywhere on the East Coast," said Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag.

He has asked the stadium architect, HOK Sports Facilities Group, to provide an estimate about how much more it would cost to make the stadium "dome-ready."

The state has resisted building a dome because of the cost -- some estimates suggest it could add $100 million to the $200 million project. Teams also resist domes, in part because players tend to be injured more on the hard artificial turf.

"We've never been particularly enamored with domes. The football experience is different. It's also tougher on players," said Baltimore NFL spokesman David Hopcraft.

But future technological development could solve some of those problems, and the state wants to know what it would cost to take advantage of, say, the invention of natural grass that grows indoors, Moag said.

Making the stadium dome-ready would require beefier footings to support the additional weight, he said. That can't be done easily once the stadium is open.

There is no money in the budget to add a dome now, but some community leaders -- especially Legg Mason chairman Raymond "Chip" Mason -- have urged consideration of the benefits.

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