For a longtime sports fan, Michael Frenz's job allows him to stay close — literally — to athletics at the highest level.
As executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, Frenz has an office in the warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"From my office, specifically, my view is of Howard Street," said Frenz, who has held the post since December 2008. "But, as you know, the building is really narrow. The offices on the other side of the corridor overlook the ballpark. Our boardroom overlooks the ballpark. And men go to the men's room to watch the game."
Established by the General Assembly in 1986, the authority plans, builds, finances and manages sports and entertainment facilities. It is the landlord of the Orioles and Ravens on behalf of the state, overseeing maintenance and upgrades to Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.
It also takes on non-stadium projects such as oversight of the $1.1 billion Baltimore City schools construction program in 2013.
The stadium complex serves a variety of non-sports functions. The National Guard used a stadium parking area as a staging venue during the recent unrest in the city, and BGE has taken over the south lots during storms.
"There are a lot of proms. There are a lot of weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs," Frenz said. "At M&T, they are typically at the club level. Some people use the seating bowl or the club level at Oriole Park, but we have event spaces in the warehouse. With the Orioles, former players and the Oriole Bird can be a part of your party, too."
Camden Yards is often described as among the nation's best baseball stadiums. Why?
I think the urban setting is one [reason]. It was the first of the retro ballparks, which people have come to like. And I think keeping the warehouse as part of the ballpark complex, and having Eutaw Street — a living, breathing Baltimore street — as part of the ballpark during games is also something that people really find cool.
What is the authority's role in the school construction project?
Really there are three entities — state, city, schools — and each of them is contributing $20 million annually to pay for $60 million in debt service. Our role will be to take that $60 million and issue bonds in order to pay for the new schools and the renovated schools. We also will be overseeing the construction management of some of those schools.
We don't really volunteer for any of the work we do outside of doing the operations at Camden Yards. We're here to serve, and the [General Assembly] wanted a party with a trusted reputation for bringing in projects on time and on budget.
The Washington Redskins seem to be at least preliminarily shopping for a new stadium site. Have you had discussions with the team?
No, we haven't. We actually did a study for Prince George's County about locating the Redskins training facility there. Obviously they decided to go with the state of Virginia. We really have not had discussions with the Redskins about our being involved in any kind of new stadium.
How does it happen that college football games, such as Navy-Ohio State last season, are held at M&T Bank Stadium?
Technically when we have events at M&T Stadium, the Ravens bring those in. And in most cases we are — let's call it joint venture partners with them. We could do it [in] reverse, where we are finding the events and they join in. But typically it works that they bring the events in.
You're an Orioles fan who enjoys working out. Do you ever get to work out on the field?
I participated in the Orioles' corporate day on the field in November. We took [batting practice]. Scott McGregor gave us some pitching lessons. We played a little game on the field. So that was a lot of fun.
Title: Executive director, Maryland Stadium Authority
Education: Bachelor's degree, Yale University; MBA, Syracuse University
Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany
Family: Married, three children
Hobbies: Reading, working out