Confirmation expected for Wright for stadium post

Ehrlich nominee faces approval in Senate today

Stadiums

March 21, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

After four years heading the Maryland Stadium Authority, John Brown is on the way out, and personnel company executive Carl Wright is expected to replace him as chairman.

Wright, 48, chaired the Ehrlich-Steele Inaugural Committee and was nominated last month by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for the unpaid, patronage post.

Federal Hill resident Bob McKinney, 52, will join Wright as the other newcomer to the agency's board, replacing F. Vernon Boozer. The appointments got preliminary approval earlier this week from a Senate committee.

The two are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate today for terms starting July 1.

Formed by lawmakers in 1986, the stadium authority was charged with replacing the Colts -- the NFL franchise that had moved to Indianapolis -- and keeping the Orioles from relocating. It built and manages the $500 million, twin-stadium Camden Yards complex and oversees other building projects, such as the Comcast Arena at College Park.

Wright, vice president of Spherion Professional Recruiting, is a Loyola High and Loyola College graduate. He is known to be an avid sports fan, according to neighbor and Maryland Racing Commission member John Franzone.

"An excellent guy," Franzone said. "He's a local guy who understands Baltimore. He's a big sports fan. You always know when there is a Ravens game because there will be a tailgater in his driveway."

Brown, 55, had been on the board since 1995, and former Gov. Parris N. Glendening -- thanks to a long-standing friendship -- chose him to replace John Moag to run the agency in 1999. Brown's tenure has featured several projects germane to the Baltimore region, such as the Minnegan Stadium renovation at Towson University, Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen and the student commons at UMBC.

"Those have been great things to work on. We had a great staff, working with various agencies. Being there to support them, that is the role of the chairman," said Brown, who doesn't foresee a major change under Wright."

"Carl Wright will do a good job and [the agency] will continue to be something that the state can be proud of."

Brown may be remembered for repairing a fractious relationship between the agency and the Orioles, which soured under Moag's regime when the baseball team complained that its stadium deal wasn't as sweet as that of the NFL's Ravens.

"John Brown and [executive director] Rick Slosson have brought a new dignity to the Maryland Stadium Authority and re-connected with the Orioles where the previous administration did not," said Orioles attorney Alan Rifkin.

Any chance Brown could remain was undone by his high-profile role on the board of the state restaurant association, which opposed legalizing slot machines and backed Ehrlich's gubernatorial opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

However, his hopes were slim as a Glendening appointee. "He knew that he wasn't going to going to be re-appointed," said Larry Hogan, the governor's secretary for appointments. "This is one of the most sought-after appointments."

Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

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