Just play ball

March 23, 2006

It should surprise no one that a trial lawyer of the stature - and deep pockets - of Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos would go to court to settle a dispute. But his decision to sue the city over access to Camden Yards during construction of the nearby convention center hotel seems more like bullying than lawyering.

The construction of the city-owned hotel has required the closure of a section of Eutaw Street, which leads to the ballpark's north entrance. The Orioles complain that the closure will force some 14,000 fans to take alternate routes they view as "recklessly conceived." City officials say opening Eutaw Street before and after games - as the Orioles want - would expose pedestrians to the potential hazards of a construction site and interfere with the 30-month building schedule. They say their detours - including a covered pedestrian walkway on the east side of Paca Street - would accommodate fans safely.

But whatever way Orioles fans walk, this matter hardly requires the intervention of a judge. There is plenty of time before the Birds' April 3 opener to plan and mark alternative routes to reach the stadium's north entrance. At most, it seems fans would have to walk another block to get around the hotel construction site. That hardly seems worth the public expense of resolving this in court.

The Orioles should be working with the city, not against it, to solve the problem. For one, they could direct fans to other gates to help relieve congestion at the north entrance. And, by the way, shouldn't Mr. Angelos be worrying about the team's pitching staff?

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