Football stadium ground broken Glendening, Schaefer among those attending ceremony for Ravens site

July 24, 1996|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's $200 million football stadium is going to be "a monument to the city's second economic renaissance" and will show critics that Maryland can support an NFL team, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday.

"Let me tell you here very clearly, for the doubters: We say today that Baltimore can indeed support a National Football League franchise," the governor told a crowd of about 200 people at a groundbreaking ceremony.

"One of the things we heard from the NFL and from other detractors from across the country was a question of whether or not Baltimore and Maryland were any longer capable of hosting an NFL team," Glendening said. "But we can. We are a growing geographic market, and we will produce a first-class football stadium."

The 68,400-seat stadium, being built near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is scheduled to be completed in August 1998. The Ravens team marks professional football's return to Baltimore. The Colts abruptly left town 12 years ago, and state officials had been lobbying to bring back a team ever since.

The Ravens have sold 54,000 season tickets for the 1996 NTC season, team officials said. The Ravens will play their first two seasons at Memorial Stadium while workers build the other facility.

"Today we begin installing the final jewel on the crown that we have come to know as Camden Yards," said Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John A. Moag Jr.

"We will deliver a football stadium that will do for the NFL what Oriole Park has done for baseball."

Among the crowd were several die-hard football fans, including Bill Cervenka, president of Baltimore Ravens Roost No. 31 in Bowie. The roosts are fan support groups.

"This means big bucks and prestige for Baltimore," Cervenka said of the franchise. "The NFL told us we couldn't do it, but you're not going to keep football out of Baltimore. This town is a football hotbed. It's more of a football town than a baseball town."

Also attending the groundbreaking was former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who had reacted angrily last week when it initially appeared state officials had forgotten to invite him. Glendening's press staff said it was an "oversight" that he wasn't initially invited.

Schaefer had persuaded the General Assembly to support a state-financed football stadium at Camden Yards nine years ago. But he said yesterday he's not expecting to get his name on the new stadium.

"I'm going to have as much chance of that as I do of becoming an astronaut," he said. "And they haven't asked me to become an astronaut yet, so I don't think my name is going to be on the stadium."

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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