'Big Game' is big boon to stadium Lottery funds guarantee money for Ravens' home

April 05, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The success of a new, multi-state lottery game has calmed fears that the Maryland Stadium Authority will fall short of funds to build the Ravens stadium at Camden Yards.

The weekly "Big Game," which had built up a pot of $77 million by yesterday, has met early projections. It should assure the Stadium Authority the $32 million a year in lottery proceeds it has budgeted for stadium construction and debt service on its other projects, chiefly Oriole Park.

"With some cautious optimism, we should be pretty close to where we should be," said Maryland Lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson.

The Big Game began in August and was expected to bring in up to $19 million a year to the state. Some of that money will go to the Stadium Authority, augmenting the stadium instant games that are played every four years. The game is a cooperative venture of Maryland and Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Stadium Authority executive director Bruce Hoffman said the success of the game has gone a long way toward making up for shortfalls in expected funds for the $200 million Ravens project.

In addition to below-par lottery revenues last year, the Stadium Authority lost $5 million in expected revenue when the Ravens decided to market less than the $80 million in personal seat licenses permitted under its agreement with the state. Had the team sold $80 million of the licenses, required of most season-ticket holders, it would have had to give $5 million of it for stadium construction.

Hoffman said he hopes to make up for that money by stretching out other projects or by arranging for an early payment of the $24 million that the team agreed to contribute to stadium construction.

"They will just have to help us cover that $5 million," Hoffman said.

Overall, Hoffman said about half the contracts -- measured by dollar value -- have been issued for the stadium. Some, such as the bricks, have come in under estimate, and others, such as the pre-cast concrete seat sections, have been over, but the net has been within budget, he said.

The stadium has a construction budget of $180 million. Another $20 million is budgeted for land acquisition and design work.

The Ravens stadium is scheduled to open in August 1998, in time for next year's preseason.

Pub Date: 4/05/97

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