With just over a week before Opening Day at Camden Yards, concern about fan safety is again threatening to restrict where streets vendors can peddle their wares.
The Maryland Stadium Authority wants to keep pushcart entrepreneurs from operating on the south side of Camden Street next to the stadium because of concern for the throngs of fans who use that walkway area to enter the stadium.
Moreover, state regulations prohibit the street vendors from selling their merchandise on state property, the Stadium Authority said yesterday, and a recent land survey found that the south side of Camden Street is owned by the state.
"We have for a long time been concerned about Camden Street as well as a few other areas," said Edward Cline, deputy director of the authority. "The number of vendors has been restricting the access of people getting in and out of the stadium. There needs to be a buffer between the gate and vendors."
Concern about vendors a year ago prompted the city, the Stadium Authority and the Orioles to block vendors from hawking their merchandise at the light rail stop. But the vendors were allowed in front of the Camden Street train station.
After the recent property survey, the Orioles called the Stadium Authority and requested that the state again enforce its regulation banning the street vendors from operating on state property, Cline said.
Street vendors typically sell food and merchandise for prices lower than those inside the stadium. Vendors have criticized the restrictions in the past, saying they believe the prohibitions are designed to hurt their sales.
During his weekly news conference Thursday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the city is trying to work with the Stadium Authority and the vendors to "try to resolve this issue again so we can play ball and support free enterprise."
Cline said he plans to meet with city officials, the Orioles and vendors to discuss the issue before Opening Day on April 5.
"We like free enterprise, too," Cline said. "There needs to be a place for the vendors. [The vendors have] become an important part of the Orioles baseball experience."
Pub Date: 3/27/99