The Maryland Stadium Authority on Thursday approved minor Russell Street modifications near Oriole Park at Camden Yards to clear the way for a deal under which downtown Baltimore would host an Indy Racing League event in 2011.
The modifications are expected to include reducing the size of a median strip and making drainage improvements. The idea is to allow the stadium area to accommodate the race. A pit area is slated to be adjacent to the ballpark.
The work approved Thursday is expected to cost $1.5 million to $2 million. State officials say the investment will more than be recouped from the event, billed as the "Baltimore Grand Prix."
"[The street project] was approved enthusiastically and unanimously," John Morton, the stadium authority chairman, said after the meeting. "Whether you like racing or not, you see the benefit here to the state and the city."
Last week, the city Board of Estimates signed off on a five-year contract with Baltimore Racing Development Corp., which is expected to land a deal with the Indy Racing League for the event.
An agreement "hopefully will be signed, sealed and delivered in the next couple weeks," said Terry Hasseltine, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing.