Parking woes for Angelos

October 05, 1997|By Barry Rascovar

PETER ANGELOS seems to have everything going for him right now. For starters, his Orioles are in the playoffs for the second straight season.

He's primed to build (if the mayor permits) a grandiose convention hotel next to the ball park, he wants to put a high-class restaurant on the second floor of Camden Station next door and he owns an architecturally significant Charles Center high-rise that he sees as a catalyst for redevelopment of that key corridor.

He's richer than Croesus from asbestos litigation. He could make billions in any tobacco settlement (he represents, on a contingency basis, the state of Maryland).

He runs a successful family restaurant on Perring Parkway, a strip shopping center on York Road, a large, national law firm and he nearly bought himself a shipyard this summer.

So why isn't this man laughing?

He can't get his way with the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Ever since Parris Glendening took over as governor, Mr. Angelos has been at war with the MSA. The latest snag concerns a long-standing gripe -- parking -- and a difference of opinion over developing some of the MSA's land for commercial ventures.

Mr. Angelos and MSA chairman John Moag don't see eye to eye. The Orioles owner is at odds with MSA executive director Bruce Hoffman, too. And he has little use for the governor, blaming him for torpedoing the Orioles owner's efforts to buy (rather than steal) an NFL football team.

Pete Angelos likes having things go his way. He likes to control events. That hasn't happened with stadium authority decisions, which he feels have been slanted against him.

He wants more parking, which the MSA has been scrambling -- with mixed results -- to provide. He wants a garage across the street, not on top of a sports megastore in the existing lot. He wants contractual parity with the Ravens when that team's football stadium is completed.

None of his demands are outrageous. Neither are some of the authority's suggestions. But the two sides seem to be speaking different languages.

At the heart of this dispute is tension between Mr. Angelos and Governor Glendening. While William Donald Schaefer ran the state, things went swimmingly for Mr. Angelos. The two former city councilmen understood one another. When the governor asked the Orioles owner to mount a drive to bring a football team to Baltimore, Mr. Angelos complied.

Football game

Then Mr. Glendening took office. He ordered Mr. Moag, not Mr. Angelos, to reel in a football team, which he did. Even since, there's been bad blood.

That poses a political danger for the governor. Mr. Angelos can direct substantial contributions to a Democratic challenger. He urged Rep. Ben Cardin to run, to no avail. He is a fan of Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann, who is the one officeholder taking on Mr. Glendening.

But if the Rehrmann effort fails to ignite, Mr. Angelos may be looking for another politician to back. If one fails to surface, anti-Glendening force may turn to the business community. Two names could quickly surface: Manor Care chief Stewart Bainum Jr. and Peter Angelos.

Both are wealthy individuals who could afford to self-finance their campaigns. Both have experience in elective office. Both hail from pivotal centers of voting power in Maryland.

Mr. Bainum, a former Montgomery County state senator who focused on budget issues in Annapolis, has been hugely successful in guiding his family's hotel (the Quality Inn chains) and nursing-home businesses.

He is still furious over the governor's angry outburst and personal accusations stemming from a dinner meeting of anti-Glendening forces at Mr. Bainum's house.

But Mr. Bainum may be reluctant to leave his family's business. He also could have a potential conflict of interest: The state sets reimbursement rates for his upscale nursing homes' few Medicaid patients. Still, Mr. Bainum is well known in vote-rich Montgomery, he is a stalwart of the business community and he would be a tenacious campaigner.

Mr. Angelos, though, could be the governor's worst nightmare. As a candidate, he would be a bulldog. Labor unions would go all-out. He enjoys celebrity status. His integrity cannot be questioned. Just in the Baltimore region, his vote total could be huge.

Yet he has numerous reasons not to run. He'd have to end his lucrative legal career. He might have to give up his Orioles ownership to avoid a conflict of interest. His other business ventures might have to be placed in a blind trust.

That's asking a lot. Why should he make the sacrifice? After all, he already has enormous influence in civic, social and political circles.

Still, if no one else is going to take on Parris Glendening, Pete Angelos might do it. Only by ending the rift between the Orioles owner and the stadium authority can the governor blunt this potential threat. So far, there is no sign of a rapprochement.

Barry Rascovar is deputy editorial-page editor of The Sun.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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