Cole's replacement could cost $90 million

UM's estimate is low, Stadium Authority says

January 12, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The price tag for the new arena and sports complex proposed for the University of Maryland, College Park is likely to be greater than the $80.8 million the college wants to pay and could hit $90 million, according to the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The university has contracted with the stadium authority, builder of the twin-stadium Camden Yards complex and other projects, to oversee the development. The proposed 17,000-seat building would replace 43-year-old Cole Field House, home court for the Terrapins. The building would include classrooms, offices and other facilities for the athletic department.

Stadium authority executive director Bruce Hoffman yesterday told the agency's board that he would suggest the university adopt a flexible budget for the project, which is supposed to be built with a combination of state, university and private money.

"We're not comfortable with the arbitrary budget that's been selected," Hoffman said. "It would be a mistake in my personal opinion to set a number and design to it."

Hoffman said he will provide his new estimate to the university's arena planning committee. Spending the additional $9 million would greatly enhance the project, he said.

"It takes it from being a bare-bones building to one that would meet the university's needs for the next 50 years," he said.

The price tag has been a matter of contention from the start, with the university rejecting estimates of $106 million received a year ago as too high. It ordered the stadium authority to pare the budget to $80.8 million, the amount the school thought could be raised.

Charles Sturtz, a vice president of administrative affairs at the university, said the college is waiting to see what $80.8 million will buy before revising its figure.

"I think there is a fine line between whether we would be satisfied and whether Bruce would be satisfied," Sturtz said. "At this point in time, if it can't be less than $90 million, then we would have to get the policy people together and see what they want to do."

Design work is scheduled to be completed this year for the new building, proposed for the north side of campus. If the project wins state and other funding next year -- including the likely sale of the name of the building to a corporate sponsor -- completion would be scheduled for 2002.

In other business at its meeting yesterday, the stadium authority approved legislation to be submitted to the General Assembly intended to strengthen security at Camden Yards.

The measure would expand the number of stadium authority employees who have the power to make arrests at Camden Yards from two to about 10.

Security at the Camden Yards complex is provided by a mix of city police during events and contract security officers supervised by the stadium authority employees.

Pub Date: 1/12/99

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