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Miller on Schaefer: He kept Baltimore a big-league town

Thank him for the Orioles, Ravens

By Thomas V. Mike Miller

5:26 PM EDT, April 26, 2011

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Most of the memories I have of William Donald Schaefer, you can't print. But the things he needs to be remembered for are the Orioles and the Ravens.

When he wanted to build Camden Yards and the football stadium, people all over the state said don't build two stadiums. If he hadn't figured out a way to keep it from going to referendum, people all over the state would have voted against two stadiums in Baltimore City.

His own advisers said, "Do not put a baseball stadium in downtown Baltimore." The consultants he hired said to put it on I-95 between Baltimore and Washington so it would guarantee a fan base from Baltimore, Washington, Northern Virginia, but it would still be a Baltimore team.

Schaefer said no, I'm putting it in downtown Baltimore.

People told him, New York City can't support two football teams. (Remember, the Redskins were a real team at the time.) How can you bring another football team here? The incentive package he put on the table wasn't rich enough for an expansion team, but it was enough for an owner like Art Modell to see he could make some money by moving his team here. That package he put together was what got the Ravens here.

Governor Schaefer has to be remembered for a lot of things, but people who care about the Orioles and who care about football have to thank him. He continued to believe Baltimore was a big-league town.

Thomas V. Mike Miller is president of the Maryland Senate.