Glendening at the bat No joy in Camden Yards: Governor needs to settle dispute that threatens stadium potential.

November 09, 1997

WHERE'S THE GOVERNOR? The Maryland Stadium Authority and Orioles owner Peter Angelos are bickering like Fred and Ethel, with a half-billion dollars of state investment at stake in the sports complex at Camden Yards.

Yet Gov. Parris N. Glendening is nowhere to be found.

It is time for Mr. Glendening to apply pres- sure; to practice shuttle diplomacy; to tell Mr. Angelos and John A. Moag, whom he appointed to chair the authority, the complex at Camden Yards belongs to neither of them.

The public is appalled by their personal spat over parking and picayune bills for paint jobs and wiring. At this rate, they will never address the larger question of how to turn this envied sports complex into an even bigger asset.

Mr. Moag can no longer snub the Orioles, whose ability to generate business and goodwill is astronomical. Mr. Angelos opposes the authority's plan for an "urban entertainment center" between Oriole Park and the under-construction football stadium. He has valid questions that merit more than the brush-off Mr. Moag gave the team's attorney at a recent meeting: What is the economic impact? Is the proposed 300,000 square feet -- twice the size of the Inner Harbor's Power Plant -- too large? Will it help or hurt the Orioles?

Camden Yards has been very, very good to Mr. Angelos. The attractive ballpark -- on top of his laudable investment in the team's superstars -- remains a major reason his team draws 3.5 million fans each summer.

Now that the new football stadium has devoured hundreds of parking spaces, a solution is needed that involves the authority and its major tenants. Mr. Moag cannot simply try to bulldoze his parking plan over Mr. Angelos' objections. He must actively involve both the Orioles and the Ravens to come up with a consensus solution.

Mr. Moag and the authority favor an urban entertainment center -- with a massive garage on top. It makes great sense. It would spur business and leverage private investment in the garage for the benefit of sports fans. It would sit south of the Martin Luther King Boulevard ele- vated highway, closer to the football stadium, so it would not -- it must not -- detract from Oriole Park.

The notion of an entertainment center isn't new: The American Institute of Architects suggested it in 1990 -- with support from the Orioles' prior owner. In 1988, RTKL Associates Inc., in a master plan for Camden Yards, noted that failure to capitalize on the business potential of the site, while addressing parking, would be "wasteful" and "underutilize" prime land.

The point of Baltimore City's pioneering return of sports stadiums to a downtown setting was to create dynamic economic opportunities -- "smart growth," as it were -- not to simply bulldoze existing city businesses to construct a parking garage that would have a meager market except for roughly 100 days a year when one of the stadiums is in use.

Governor Glendening cannot continue to duck this issue. Maryland's substantial investment and the vast, untapped potential of the Camden Yards area cry out for intervention. He is the only one capable of ending the bitter dispute between Mr. Moag and Mr. Angelos so the two sides can work together to do what is best for Baltimore and Maryland.

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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