Camden Yards' enduring blueprint NFL stadium: Ravens' stunning nest completes a transformation that once seemed impossible.

September 06, 1998

THEY GOT IT right -- again. Six years ago, the Maryland Stadium Authority unveiled Oriole Park. It helped revive professional baseball. The new stadium officially unveiled today in the Baltimore Ravens' opener against Pittsburgh may or may not do the same for pro football, but it meets the high standards established with Oriole Park.

The stadium is impressive, imaginative and innovative. From state-of-the-art scoreboards a city block long to raven gargoyles and a sea of shocking purple seats whose garishness somehow pleases, designers knew they were building an entertainment facility that had to be fun and functional.

Some Marylanders believe that the $223 million spent on the football stadium (atop $107 million for the baseball park) was unnecessary; that the deal to lure Art Modell's team from Cleveland was overly generous; and that the economic impact has been oversold.

Those computations, however, omit the benefit that has no price. A community's spirit is not quantifiable, but it is palpable. Can anyone forget the decade-long anguish after the Colts fled? The wound seemed to be rubbed raw every autumn Sunday.

The healing that began two years ago with the coming of the Ravens continues with this latest gem at Camden Yards. Almost overnight, the sports complex became a potent, positive symbol for this region. Out-of-towners are as apt to ask about Camden Yards as they once did steamed crabs.

The momentum must extend to a commercial and residential renewal of the nearby Middle Branch waterfront. That will require cooperation and forward-thinking by city and state officials.

Indeed, Governors William Donald Schaefer and Parris N. Glendening, Mayors Schaefer and Kurt L. Schmoke and stadium authority chairmen Herbert J. Belgrad and John Moag, followed a blueprint as impressive as the architects' field of dreams at Camden Yards. In 14 years, they and others transformed the crushing loss of a football team into the impetus for a entertainment and tourism powerhouse at Camden Yards. They turned a giant negative into a positive. Failure wasn't an option. It is a political model that can be borrowed to revitalize an entire city.

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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