Another ending for Memorial Stadium Ravens leaving: There has been a lot of talk over the years, but no definitive answer.

December 13, 1997

MEMORIAL STADIUM has been like an alley cat that refuses to die. After Sunday's final Baltimore Ravens' game against the Tennessee Oilers, however, the end really will be near.

So what's next? That has been a subject for discussion ever since the Orioles played there for the last time in 1991. But knowing they had only two years -- the term the Ravens contracted to play at Memorial while their Camden Yards home is being built -- didn't spur officials in charge of the stadium to decide its fate.

People who live near the 43-year-old ballpark -- in Waverly, Homestead, Ednor Gardens, Lakeside, Coldstream, Montebello -- have been appeased by the continuing discussions of a task force on the stadium's future. But the truth is that none of the talk so far has led to agreement on a concrete plan for the `D property. The last suggestion the city promoted publicly was to turn it into a training facility for the Ravens, but that was never going to happen.

The Maryland Stadium Authority, which has been running the stadium ever since the NFL came back to town in 1996, promised 10 years ago to pay for its demolition when the time came. But with the price-tag for Memorial's destruction estimated at around $20 million, that promise easily made may be harder to keep. In fact, city planning Director Charles C. Graves is reluctant to issue a formal request for proposals for the property until demolition funds are appropriated by the legislature.

As home to the old Baltimore Colts, Memorial Stadium provided the setting for many fond memories of football championships won -- of Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry and John Mackey. Then there are the baseball memories of Orioles past. The Baysox also played there for a while. Youngsters will recall the recent glory days of the Canadian Football League champion Stallions and the Ravens. Hold on to these memories. One day they will be all that's left of Memorial Stadium.

In the meantime, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke needs to get a firm commitment of demolition funds from the state and set a timetable for determining Memorial Stadium's future. Johns Hopkins University is redeveloping the old Eastern High School site across 33rd Street from the stadium. If Hopkins doesn't want to build on the 30-acre Memorial Stadium site, then public officials need to find someone who will or figure out another use for the property.

Pub Date: 12/13/97

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