Displaced O's parkers not fond of walk Ravens' stadium consumes 2,600 spots

March 22, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Thousands of fans driving to Orioles games this season will find their old parking spots blocked by something new: a half-built football stadium.

The Ravens' stadium has consumed nearly half of Oriole Park's parking, or 2,600 spaces. The Maryland Stadium Authority has managed to replace most of it with nearby lots, but the displacement will send hundreds of cars into nearby garages, creating new competition among fans used to slipping into spots a few blocks from the ballpark.

For many fans, it will mean a longer walk and greater inconvenience.

It will also likely trigger compensation payments to the Orioles from the Maryland Stadium Authority for lost parking revenue.

Before work began on the football stadium last year, there was enough parking for 5,600 cars on the sea of asphalt immediately south of Oriole Park. By Opening Day on April 1, that will be reduced to 3,000.

This has forced the stadium authority to lease spaces in a hodgepodge of nearby lots to come up with the 5,000 spaces it has to provide the Orioles, according to their lease. And 1,000 of those won't be available for the six weekday games.

"It has caused a major problem for our season-ticket holders," said Walt Gutowski, the Orioles' director of business affairs.

About 900 spaces have been added where businesses once stood next to Hammerjacks nightclub, alongside and under the Interstate 395 ramps. Hammerjacks is slated to be torn down, but negotiations on the price may not be completed before Opening Day, said stadium authority executive director Bruce Hoffman.

Ticket takers, ushers, concession workers and other event workers will use many of these spaces, with shuttle bus service to the stadium.

The Orioles say all of their full-season, season-ticket holders will be accommodated on lots B and C. But fans holding "mini-plan" ticket packages have been bumped to new and, in some cases, unfamiliar locations.

About 250 to 300 mini-plan buyers who used to park on what is now the football stadium site will be moved to lots K and L, across Russell Street in lots used by Lee Electric Co. and Caplan Bros. glass company.

Affected season-ticket holders have complained about the long walk from their new spots and the lack of notice. Charles Shaw, a 13-game plan holder, said his Orioles' ticket renewal form, which arrived late last year, showed him at his old locations -- on lots that had already been replaced by a gaping hole.

He sent in his money by the Jan. 15 deadline but a few weeks ago received notice from the team saying that his parking had been bumped to the lots across Russell Street.

"They knew they were going to build that stadium since the Ravens came here. If they had told me this in January, I would have dumped the tickets. It's too far to walk. I don't want that section," he said.

He said Orioles officials -- who blame the stadium authority for tardiness in finding new lots -- offered him a refund on his tickets when he complained.

In the long run, the state is looking at developing underground parking north of the stadium as well as an "urban entertainment" complex and parking garage -- possibly anchored by a "Niketown" type nightclub -- between the two stadiums. Also, it is looking at property across Russell Street to build a conventional parking garage.

"We have a number of plans," Hoffman said. "If they all pan out we could have more parking than we've ever had."

As of Opening Day, the total spaces available will be between 4,875 and 4,950. The stadium authority has to pay the Orioles to make up for lost revenue if it falls short of 5,000 spaces. The Orioles and stadium authority split the profits from on-site parking.

"I think we're not in bad shape. We're about at 5,000, which is our goal for Opening Day," Hoffman said. "The problem will be day games."

On the six weekday day games, including Opening Day, several of the commercial lots will be unavailable and other lots will be full of downtown workers.

"We're encouraging people to use mass transit or satellite bus parking on those days," he said.

The Mass Transit Administration is planning enhanced promotions for its bus, light rail and subway service to Camden Yards, said MTA spokesman Anthony Brown.

The services delivered an average of 8,000 fans to each Orioles game last year, and can accommodate more. It has a total of 11,000 parking spaces at its various rail, subway and bus "park and ride" sites.

"It makes a lot more sense to use mass transit rather than knocking down a lot of buildings for parking lots," Hoffman said.

Camden revisions

Parking spaces lost to Ravens stadium construction: 2,600

New spaces added or leased by stadium authority: 1,875-1,950

Lots F and G, near Hammerjacks: 900*

Lots K and L, across Russell Street: 400

Garage at Pratt and Greene streets: 400

Other Russell Street locations: 175-250

L * Only these spaces will be available for the six day games.

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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