Stadium tab: $11.1 million for lawyers, consultants


The Evening Sun reported Monday that the Maryland Stadium Authority had spent $11.1 million on legal and consultant fees for the Orioles' new ballpark. The story omitted the fact that $8.1 million of those fees was spent for architectural and construction management work.

The same story incorrectly reported the amount the authority had spent on appraisals of the B&O; Railroad warehouse. That amount is $89,890.

In three years, the Maryland Stadium Authority has spent $11.1 million on legal and consulting fees connected with construction of a 46,000-seat ballpark for the Orioles, according to figures supplied by the authority.

Most of the fees have been paid with revenues from three instant lottery games sponsored by the state that yield up to $24 million for the sports authority each year.

The baseball stadium is under construction in Camden Yards and is scheduled to open in 1992. The ballpark itself will cost $105.4 million. To date, authority officials say they have spent $12.1 million in construction costs and $99.7 million for land acquisition, which have been paid in addition to the consulting and legal fees.

The stadium construction and some design plans are being paid with revenue bonds sold during the past two years by the authority.

But other stadium costs, including consulting and legal fees, are being financed with the gambling revenues of the $1 instant win tickets sold in many convenience stores and pharmacies. The leftover lottery revenue is being placed in the bank to fund any cost overruns of the project, authority executive director Bruce Hoffman has said.

The authority was formed as a state agency in 1986 but did not get its first state budget or begin to spend money until 1987, when acquisition of land began at the 85-acre site in Camden Yards.

A recent survey of the authority's books by The Evening Sun revealed that private attorneys from three major Baltimore law firms have billed the authority $1.2 million since 1988.

The authority's books also reflect a $9.2 million tab paid to private consultants since 1988. Before that, the authority paid almost $1 million in private legal and consulting fees, the fiscal records show.

The authority has an assistant attorney general assigned to its office for some legal work, but the billing receipts show that the authority has relied on private attorneys for the bulk of work.

The private lawyers have negotiated the stadium lease with the Orioles, the attempted acquisition of the B&O; Railroad Co. warehouse and CSX properties on the stadium site, provided architectural review, construction bid instructions, bond forms and concession agreements -- work that is too technical for the state's lawyers, said Alison Asti, the authority's assistant attorney general.

The firm of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander has billed the authority $692,993 since 1988 for work that includes lease negotiations, acquisitions and architectural review. For the same period, Shapiro & Olander has billed the authority $501,957 for bond counsel services.

In addition, a legal bill of $42,653 has been sent to the authority by the firm of Piper & Marbury for fees related to a condemnation suit the authority filed in 1989 against the owners of the warehouse, which include construction magnate Willard Hackerman, a close associate and political supporter of Gov. William Donald Schaefer. So far, the authority has spent $500,803 on appraisals of the warehouse in preparation for the lawsuit, the figures show.

Attorney Francis B. Burch Jr. of Piper & Marbury is charging the authority $190 an hour to litigate the condemnation case. A preliminary hearing on the suit is scheduled for Baltimore Circuit Court in February. And a trial is scheduled to start April 1.

One attorney who billed the state for about 1,000 hours for a

total of $153,821 of stadium authority related work while employed by the firm of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander resigned last spring to become the assistant attorney general assigned to the authority.

That attorney is Asti, who receives $63,235 as an assistant state's attorney general for the authority, said deputy director Ed Cline.

Since 1988, the authority has hired numerous consultants to work on the project, the records show. Included in the list of consultants are three appraisal firms that have been hired by the state to check each other's work and render second opinions in certain cases. Those appraisers have charged the state $643,305 for the work, the authority's records show.

The authority has also paid Parsons & Co., a local consulting firm, $43,465 to study uses for the southern half of the warehouse. However, Hoffman has refused to make the Parsons study public.

Other costs paid by the authority include $130,027 to American Sports Associates, of New York, a consulting firm headed by former New York Yankees General Manager Eugene McHale, which is charged with helping the state woo a National Football League franchise back to Baltimore. The firm also advised the authority during lease negotiations with the Orioles in 1988.

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