Morton named chairman

maryland stadium authority

Finance executive replaces Puddester, who will remain in agency

November 08, 2008|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,childs.walker@baltsun.com

Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed longtime finance executive John Morton III as the new chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority yesterday, replacing Frederick W. Puddester, who is stepping aside after 16 months.

The Authority also announced yesterday that it has hired a new executive director, Michael J. Frenz.

Puddester, a former state budget director and current finance official at Johns Hopkins, will remain on the Authority. He said he told O'Malley when he was appointed that he didn't want to remain chairman for the duration of his four-year-term.

"The job takes a lot of time," he said, noting that he hopes to help his wife start a new furniture business and to devote more time to his day job at Hopkins.

In his time on the job, Puddester helped the Authority avoid arbitration with the Orioles and agree to a deal with the club to install a new scoreboard and audio system at Camden Yards. He also helped negotiate a living wage agreement with the day workers who clean Camden Yards, averting a threatened hunger strike.

"Fred did a great job on behalf of the people of Maryland," O'Malley said in a statement.

Puddester also pushed for an inventory of athletic facilities around the state so those sites could be marketed better. The Department of Business and Economic Development, and the Authority have begun that effort.

Morton graduated from the Naval Academy and went on to serve as an executive at several large banks. He was president of Premier Bank, a member of the Bank of America/NationsBank group, from 2001 to 2005 and is now retired. The Annapolis resident has also served as chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee and led the effort to attract the Olympics to the Baltimore/Washington area in 2012. O'Malley appointed him to the Authority this summer.

Morton said in a statement that he hopes to attract more events to sports facilities around Maryland and to keep Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium in excellent shape.

"Nothing brings people together and gives a sense of pride and community like sports events," he said.

Frenz, the agency's new top administrator, was executive vice president at Ginnie Mae, a government-owned corporation that backs federal housing loans. Though the company is sometimes confused with Fannie Mae, it was not a culprit in the recent credit crisis that hammered the nation's economy.

"We wanted someone with experience managing a large, complex organization," Puddester said. "I think Michael is a fabulous find for the state."

Frenz, who signed a two-year contract for a first-year salary of $250,000, will start next month. He will replace interim director David Raith, who has served in the job for more than a year.

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