Between The Lines


January 20, 2004

The hippodome, aka ...

In time, it probably will be known as just the Hippodrome, or maybe the Hipp, as some in the theater crowd already prefer. But officially, the sumptuously revived theater on downtown's west side has more names than a German prince.

Each name, of course, has big dollars behind it. The entire four-building complex -- which cost $62 million, much of it coming from the state in grants or bonds -- is the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center ($5 million donation).

Within the complex, the new lobby wing is the Constellation Energy Pavilion ($1 million). The multipurpose event space and cabaret theater in the renovated Eutaw Savings Bank is the M&T Bank Pavilion ($1 million).

But wait, there's more.

The lobby of the Western National Bank -- also part of the center complex -- is henceforth to be known as the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation Lobby. The foundation has not made the amount public.

And for those without seven figures to work with, how about a seat? A couple hundred people have pledged $1,000 to $2,000 to put their names on a chair. "This is a big thing for Baltimore with big memories for many people," said Eric Grubman, the Hippodrome Foundation's chairman.

There is precedent for this name mania. When the 2,286-seat vaudeville house opened in 1914, the facade said: Pearce & Scheck's Hippodrome. Then again, they built the thing.

-- Scott Calvert

A slight advantage

The Daily Record newspaper recently named 21 people Maryland's "power elite."

On the list -- right there with the likes of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, and Rouse Co. chief executive Anthony W. Deering -- is none other than Mark R. Cheshire.

Don't recognize the name? You would if you worked at The Daily Record, where he is editor in chief.

Cheshire, 34, said he decided who would appear on the list with the help of "a couple reporters." But he said he never sought recognition for himself.

"We brought together a bunch of names. I lobbied to have mine withdrawn, but as kind of a lark we included it," he said. "I was just a throw-in. It was almost random."

-- Laura Vozzella

Policing the park

Baltimore's City Council members were upset to hear about the impending temporary closure of a portion of Robert E. Lee Park where dogs are allowed to run free. The city needs to replace soil contaminated by dogs and to repair a pedestrian bridge.

Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young said the Department of Recreation and Parks should alert the council before closing a park. "So if people call us, we can tell them why it's being closed," Young said.

The council approved Jan. 12 an ordinance to hold an informational hearing to allow park users, dog owners and the elected officials the chance to learn more about why the city's administration is closing the park next month.

Soil samples collected by the city Health Department in early October revealed high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, which are found in animal feces and can pose a high threat of health risk.

Councilwoman Helen L. Holton asked, "Who do you get to catch people who don't pick up after their dogs?"

Councilwoman Pamela V. Carter replied: "The poop police."

-- Doug Donovan

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