Deal would let Ravens build training facility

Baltimore County Council to vote on plan to lease 32 acres for 25 years

July 30, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council is considering bills that would allow the Baltimore Ravens to build a $20 million training facility in Northwest Regional Park in Owings Mills on 32 acres it would lease for 25 years.

The deal, worked out by County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger's administration, would net the county about $233,000 a year in lease payments, a lighted football field and occasional public use of the Ravens facility.

In return, the team would receive infrastructure improvements and a deal to make lease payments in lieu of taxes for the site.

The County Council will discuss the set of bills that would make the zoning and financial allowances the deal requires at its work session today. Most of the issues are scheduled for a vote Monday.

"We wanted to continue to have our Super Bowl champion Ravens call Baltimore County home, but we had to make sure the agreement was to the benefit of both the Ravens and the Baltimore County citizens," Ruppersberger said. "We feel [it is], based on what they're putting into the lease and the fact that they're agreeing to put back into the community."

The team now pays $1 a year to rent a city-owned facility, also in Owings Mills, that was built for the Baltimore Colts in the early 1980s. That camp is too small to house all of the team's administrative offices, and parts of the training facilities are obsolete, Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said.

Many Ravens players live in Baltimore County, so the team wants to keep the camp there for their convenience. The county wants to remain the site of the team's camp for the substantial property and income taxes the players generate: If the team moved its camp to another county - and if all of the players moved with it - the county would lose about $15 million in taxes over the next 10 years, said Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon.

The lease would cover an undeveloped section of the park west of Deer Park Road and south of Shipes Lane. The team plans to invest $20 million to build a 120,000-square-foot building for administrative offices and exercise rooms, four outdoor fields and one indoor field, Hannon said.

Under the deal, the Ravens would build a lighted football stadium nearby - a $200,000 project featuring a field with Ravens logos - for use by Owings Mills and Liberty Road recreational councils.

The team would allow public use of its fields for camps run by players or coaches or for other activities at least three days a year.

The county, as part of the deal, would spend about $2.3 million to extend water and sewer lines to the camp and build an access road. The water and sewer extensions, which also would require approval of Baltimore City officials and the Maryland Department of the Environment, would benefit the rest of the park as well, Hannon said.

Before breaking ground, the team would have to go through the county's development review process, which would include a community input meeting.

Byrne said the team is encouraged by the progress. If all goes well, the facility could be completed in the fall next year, although the team likely would not move in until after that season, he said.

The county had no firm plans for how to develop the part of the park where the Ravens want to go, county spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. The county's parks and recreation department has held meetings with local recreation councils to discuss uses for it and received informal support for the training camp plan, Hannon said.

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