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Wait till next year


The final game of Camden Yards' first season had some o the electricity of opening day last spring. Those who have complained that this year's baseball fans are less demonstrative than their forebears at Memorial Stadium should have been there. It was a memorable occasion.

So what if the season was effectively over before the game, shattering the dream of post-season play in the ballpark's first year.

It remained a great season -- for the Orioles' management, which filled the ballpark 59 straight games; for the ballplayers, who unexpectedly gave us a pennant race almost all summer; and for the fans, who have a beautiful, classic ballpark (albeit with a few problems) and some new heroes to worship.

Wait till next year.

As the season was running out at Camden Yards, attention switched back to the old stadium which still stands forlornly in mid-city. Mayor Schmoke reiterated his intention of moving ahead with the redevelopment of the area around the stadium and Eastern High School across the street. The surrounding neighborhoods have waited patiently, if nervously, while the National Football League decides when and where to expand.

If Baltimore gets one of the proposed franchises, the old ballpark would serve as an interim home while a football stadium is built at Camden Yards. If not, almost everyone agrees Memorial Stadium should be torn down. The only question is when.

City Hall and the neighborhoods have agreed on a very general plan to redevelop the 59 acres straddling 33rd street.

A consultant has recommended a mix of housing, offices and perhaps a small mall. There the plan sits, waiting for developers to come forth with specifics acceptable to both the city government and the neighborhood -- and with the money to carry them out.

Given the economic climate, that may not happen any sooner tTC than it would take the NFL to make up its mind. However, the old stadium is a drain on the taxpayer as well as a potential eyesore to its neighbors. It can't stand there empty for too long without depressing values in some strong neighborhoods.

The Schmoke administration is keeping faith by going ahead with some landscaping as evidence of its commitment. The folks in Waverly and Ednor Gardens, like Orioles fans, have to wait till next year.

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