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Local interests not leaping up to buy Orioles


Assessing Baltimore's chances for local ownership if the Orioles are sold, former team owner Jerry Hoffberger yesterday painted this pessimistic picture:

"I didn't see anybody around [locally] when I was selling the team for $10 [million] or $12 million."

The price has gone up a bit since Hoffberger sold the team in 1979 to Edward Bennett Williams for $12 million. Orioles owner Eli Jacobs paid a then-record price of $70 million for the Orioles in 1989.

Now, with the team up for sale again and a new stadium on the way, Jacobs reportedly is seeking upward of $120 million.

Indeed, it promises to be a hard sell locally. Ed Hale, who owns the Baltimore Blast soccer team and has expressed a desire to bring an NFL franchise back to town, said he would be interested only in minority ownership of the Orioles. And that is only "if we can get local people involved, so it [the matter of local ownership] would finally be settled once and for all," said Hale, nTC who is seeking control of Baltimore Bancorp.

"I don't have any interest in majority ownership," he said.

Hale first learned of the possible sale of the Orioles on the radio while driving to his office yesterday. His curiosity aroused, Hale then called three potential investors -- "friends" he called them -- to see if there was interest in putting together a group.

Hale's interest is mild, at best. He said he is more interested in owning a football team, and only "lukewarm" on baseball ownership.

Meanwhile, Nathan Landow, a Bethesda-based real-estate developer and another would-be football franchise owner, said he had no interest in owning the Orioles.

"We don't want to be perceived as being all over the place," Landow said. "We're putting everything we have into the football situation. We're really interested in helping Baltimore bring football back. We're positioned pretty well now. I hope we're an attractive candidate."

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