Ehrlich endorses baseball in D.C.

Gov.-elect says region can support two teams

Baseball

January 05, 2003|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Maryland Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has indicated that he would be supportive of a second major-league baseball team in the region, but only if studies prove that it would not do serious economic harm to the Orioles.

Ehrlich told The Washington Post on Friday that he was supportive of the efforts to bring big-league baseball back to the nation's capital, but a spokeswoman for the incoming governor said that his comments were based on the belief that the new team would draw from a different population base than the Orioles.

"He does believe that a second baseball team would draw crowds from different sources, but studies would have to be done and demographics would have to be studied," spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver said yesterday. "He is supportive of the concept, but only if any study conducted shows the team wouldn't detract from the star power the Baltimore Orioles have brought to the city."

The Orioles have long contended that a second major-league team would siphon away a significant portion of their gate and broadcast revenues, relegating the team to small-market status. They have commissioned two studies on the impact of a team in Washington or Northern Virginia and insist that it confirms the damage that would be done to the Orioles franchise.

Ehrlich, however, apparently believes there is room in the region for two successful baseball franchises.

"There are 5 million people between Baltimore and Washington; the area can support two teams," Ehrlich told The Post. "This region [Washington and its suburbs] deserves a team. It's great having two professional football teams here and I think the same with regards to baseball."

Orioles owner Peter Angelos was not available to comment yesterday, but he has never wavered in his opposition to a second team in the region.

DeLeaver said Ehrlich is not actively working to attract a baseball team in the Washington area.

"He is a Baltimore guy, so the Orioles come first in his mind," she added.

"He is by no means touting or wearing a jersey for any Washington team."

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