Stadium Authority saved millions by retaining a low profile


Come on, now -- even all you who were opposed from the beginning to building a downtown ballpark for the Orioles -- now that the new place is about to open, it looks great, doesn't it?

Not only is Oriole Park at Camden Yards state of the art functionally, it's terrific aesthetically.

One reason it's pleasing to the senses is a decision made early on to place the playing field two stories below street level. It was a decision that saved millions in construction costs.

"The primary reason for putting the field so low," says Bruce H. Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, "was so the building would not overwhelm the neighborhood.

"But in so doing we figure we saved $10 million. We didn't have to build the place two stories higher. We saved on elevators and escalators. And aesthetically the whole place looks better."

Not that OPCY has been cheap to build. The ballpark cost an estimated $108 million. Land acquisition and the cost of relocating displaced businesses ran another $100 million.

* The Orioles front-office staff is praying for the recovery of Gordon Beard, who is in very critical condition at University Hospital. Beard, who has been doing public relations work for the Orioles since retiring from the Associated Press three years ago, appears to have burst an ulcer. The popular master of ceremonies and humorist is in a coma.

* When the 3-2 Baltimore Thunder entertains 4-1 Detroit, the top team in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, Saturday at 8 o'clock at the Arena, all eyes will be on the visitors' fabulous Gait twins, Gary and Paul.

All eyes, that is, but those of Baltimore coach John Stewart. He knows what to expect from the Gaits. Stewart believes the key to the game is Ted Sawicki, Detroit's all-star goalie.

"Sawicki is the best in the league," Stewart says. "We scored 12 goals against him in the championship game last year [a 14-12

Turbos win] but we didn't start scoring on him until the fourth quarter. We've got to get to him earlier, if we're going to win this game."

* With bowling having failed to gain recognition as the state sport despite a $200,000 publicity campaign, here comes lacrosse for another try in Annapolis.

Point man for lacrosse, as usual, is Baltimorean John Stude, who came up short in two previous efforts. Stude has been issued a permit for a 6.30 p.m. lacrosse demonstration at the State House in Annapolis Monday. Stude has lined up several hundred junior players for the demonstration but could use more.

Sponsor of the bill to have lacrosse named the state game (jousting already is the state sport) is Del. John J. Bishop, of the 9th District. The bill will be heard in the legislature next Wednesday.

* Al Flora, who once promoted fights here and now serves on the State Athletic Commission, has been critical of certain promoters, Don King included, of course. Not so of Stu Satosky, who put on the successful show at the Pikesville Armory last week. Says Flora of Satosky:

"The kid does things right. He's got enough money to operate with, and he puts on a first-class show. The Vincent Pettway card last week was beautiful. Satosky is a classy guy."

* There's a reason why you didn't see ex-Maryland football coach Joe Krivak's name in with those of his former staff members who have taken jobs at new schools. College Park sources say Krivak is being paid $90,000 for each of the three remaining years on his contract. With that in his pocket, the 56-year-old Krivak doesn't need to work 18-hour days for some other coach.

Mark Duffner, the successor to Krivak, who resigned under pressure Dec. 7, is earning $120,000 a year. What's more, Duffner's staff members are being paid an average of $12,000 a year more than Krivak's were. The new man in sports or in business often is given everything his predecessor could not get. A boss (in this case athletic director Andy Geiger) wants to make sure his hand-picked guy succeeds. Remember, the boss's neck is out there, too.

* The University of Maryland received kudos for the women's basketball game with Virginia that drew a turn-away crowd of 14,000-plus at Cole Field House two weeks ago, but not all concerned were happy.

Among those turned away at the door was a group with tickets purchased in advance. They had driven from Bel Air for the game. Those people deserved more than a refund.

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