Designers compete to bring NFL team back to town


In the quest to bring major league football back to Baltimore, local architects and designers drew a line in the sand yesterday.

Or was that a toe?

All kinds of foot- and football-themed shapes were on display yesterday at CitySand '92, the fourth annual Inner Harbor sand sculpture contest sponsored by the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and the American Institute of Architects.

This year's theme was "FootBawlamer, Hon," in honor of Baltimore's bid to win a National Football League franchise later this year.

In keeping with the theme, designers from Probst-Mason Architects sculpted two giant bare feet in downtown Baltimore, with one kicking a football-shaped stadium.

"These are the feet of the player kicking off the ball at the start of the very first game after Baltimore gets a team," said architect Sean Mackey. "We made the player's feet at an enormous scale to show what a big impact the football stadium will have on the city."

The design won the "People's Choice" award from spectators and a prize for being the "Most Dynamic." Mr. Mackey said the group's elliptical stadium wasn't domed because "we felt the climate is good enough in Baltimore that you don't need a dome." But it could have a retractable roof, he said. "It's adaptable. Whatever the team wants. It's the game that's important."

The Baltimore Architecture Foundation created a giant crab-as-couch potato, watching TV during the first game after Baltimore gets a team. "We're suggesting that the name of the team be the "Bawlamer Crabs," said BAF Secretary John Reid.

A group from the local chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects created the tableau of a tailgate party in ,, progress, complete with two football fans sitting in the back of their car, a cooler and empty beer cans at their feet.

"We remember the tailgate parties at Memorial Stadium, so we thought we would bring back that spirit," said landscape architect Stuart Ortel.

Architects from Kann and Associates created a football-as-building-project, with pigskin being laced up over a steel building frame. "It's one of the few construction projects in town," said architect Donald Kann.

RTKL Associates and D.I. Design rounded out the field of competitors. The six sand sculptures will be on display until today at 11 a.m., when the first 100 children who come to the Inner Harbor amphitheater will be allowed to demolish them and create their own art under the guidance of volunteers from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation. Other organizers are Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Harborplace and the Gallery.

The contest kicked off a week of football-related festivities leading up to a pre-season game scheduled Thursday between the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins at Memorial Stadium.

Other "Give Baltimore the Ball" events include an "NFL Night" in Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday; a pep rally at the Inner Harbor at noon Wednesday; and a charity event at Martin's West on Wednesday night.

Former Colt players Tom Matte and Joe Ehrmann, who judged the sand sculpture contest with Kim McCalla of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said events such as these help show the NFL how much Baltimoreans want a team again.

"They all help build up momentum," he said. "I don't know how the NFL owners are going to make a decision, but I know they need to see a great deal of enthusiasm from the city."

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