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Man sits on roof as new stadium name remains on the fence


Alvin "Buster" Earll is mad as hell that it's taking so long to name the new stadium.

And he's not going to take it any longer -- at least not on the ground.

So Tuesday evening he climbed a ladder to the 12-foot-high roof of Steeltown, a sports bar and nightclub on North Point Boulevard, pitched a tent and vowed not to come down until the stadium is named.

"I'm up here for the duration," the 25-year-old Mr. Earll promised yesterday afternoon, 42 hours into his vigil. "I'm starting to get pretty settled in. The only thing I need is cable [TV] and my Nintendo."

For the record, Mr. Earll -- who calls himself a "diehard Orioles fan" -- favors Orioles Park at Camden Yards as the name for the new stadium. But that, he emphasized, is not the point.

"What's important is just to name it and get it over with," he said, the wind fluffing his shoulder-length blond hair, the sun-baked tar sticking underfoot, the drone of surrounding air conditioners a constant background noise. "We've been kept in the dark on this now for two years."

But Mr. Earll's complaints seem to be falling on deaf ears. "The governor is not aware of this young man's efforts," said Welford McClellan, a spokesman for Gov. William Donald Schaefer. "But he does understand the anxiety of people wanting to know the name of the new stadium and hopes this situation can be resolved as soon as possible."

Orioles owner Eli Jacobs, in town for the baseball owners' meetings, could not be reached for comment.

Nonetheless, it's not all bad up there in the air. Despite his lack ofNintendo and cable, Mr. Earll -- who is calling himself "the goof on the roof" -- is not without a few creature comforts. A sturdy tent provides shelter. A cot in the tent makes a comfortable bed. A small TV, radio and tape deck provide entertainment. Wednesday night the folks at Steeltown wired up a telephone.

Mr. Earll bathes in a small plastic wading pool and takes care of other bodily functions in a barrel.

Meals are sent up from the Steeltown kitchen, but the community is already starting to pitch in: A woman dropped off a pan of lasagna Wednesday night.

Motorists passing on North Point Boulevard, alerted to Mr. Earll's presence on the roof by radio and TV coverage, beep and yell their support. Bar patrons conduct conversations from the parking lot or climb the ladder for a visit. "I've never been the center of attention like this before," Mr. Earll said, obviously enjoying the experience.

Mr. Earll, who lives in the North Point area with his family, has worked since June at Steeltown as a "bar back," backing up the bartenders and keeping supplies stocked.

Steeltown -- which opened in May and has had its economic problems since, filing last month for Chapter 11 bankruptcy -- did not set up the stunt for publicity, said Larry Milburn, general manager of the facility. But he's not denying the positive value of the attention his bar is getting.

"Here comes this young man with his crazy energy, it's probably the best spark plug we could find for this race car," Mr. Milburn enthused.

Mr. Earll is on unpaid leave of absence from his job, Mr. Milburn added, but Steeltown is more than happy to provide his meals. "If he wants filet mignon every night, he has it."

But there is one restriction on what goes up on the roof.

"No alcoholic beverages," Mr. Milburn said adamantly. "I don't want the goof falling from the roof."

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