At mall, Oriole Park has a sandlot...


At mall, Oriole Park has a sandlot status

Mall marketing people are a clever, almost shameless breed. No event, no display is too weird for them if it draws shoppers into the center.

Usually these promotions are prosaic stuff: county government day or a visit from a bunch of mortified college kids in Smurf outfits. But occasionally a marketing manager comes up with a stunt that's truly inspired -- such as a 40-ton, 10-foot-high sand sculpture of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Just such an edifice is scheduled for completion this morning at Westview Mall. The brainchild of marketing director Lori Marler, the sculpture has been under construction for eight days in the Value City Court, just outside the movie theaters.

Last October, Ms. Marler was trying to come up with a promotion that would tie into the 1993 All-Star Game, which will be played at the real stadium in July, when an idea struck her:

If you build it, they will shop.

"I had no concept of what 40 tons of sand looked like," she said.

The mock stadium, measuring 20 feet by 20 feet, has been built by Charles Wakefield and Justin Gordon, the partners who turned a knack for building sand castles into International Sand Creations.

Mr. Wakefield, of Melbourne, Fla., says the Camden Yards sculpture is only "medium-sized" by the partners' standards. For last year's Olympics, they built a sand sculpture for a Nashua, N.H., mall that weighed 140 tons, he says.

Camden Sandyards is scheduled to remain standing until early August, and according to Mr. Wakefield there is little chance that mall officials will wake up one morning and find they have a giant sandbox in the common area.

"We guarantee the structure will stand if it's not abused," he said. "Everyone thinks the sculpture will remain soft, but it's quite to the contrary."

Mr. Wakefield said that while he and his partner have done a sculpture of the Roman Coliseum, they have never duplicated a modern stadium.

"What makes it intricate is you have to scale the building, so there's a lot of mathematics involved in getting it right."

Creditors approve Hess reorganization

N. Hess Sons Inc., a Baltimore-area shoe store company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago this month, could emerge from court protection by late summer.

The 121-year-old Hess Shoes chain ran into a cash-flow crisis last year when the Bank of Baltimore cut back on its credit line. Now, a creditors' committee representing 80 percent of the company's debt has unanimously approved a reorganization plan that was filed April 1.

The period for comment on Hess' disclosure statement will expire in early June. Then the plan will be submitted to creditors for a vote during a 60-day ballot period.

"We believe we'll emerge in August," said Hess President George Bernstein.

Presuming the plan is approved, Hess will emerge from bankruptcy with 22 stores, compared with 29 when it filed. "It's a bit leaner outfit, but it's much more highly concentrated on the Baltimore market," Mr. Bernstein said.

Restaurant to pay copyright damages

A Gaithersburg restaurant and lounge has decided to face the music in a legal settlement of a copyright infringement suit filed by Broadcast Music Inc., BMI said yesterday.

As part of the settlement, J. J. Muldoon's agreed to pay undisclosed damages, attorney fees and court costs and to enter into a licensing agreement with the performing rights organization.

BMI enforces legal requirements that songwriters' works cannot be performed in public without the permission of the copyright owner. Among the songs' cited in BMI's Feb. 3 suit against Muldoon's were such hits as Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away," and Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth."

The Muldoon's case was the second BMI copyright suit resolved in Maryland in recent months. On March 25, a U.S. District judge in Baltimore ordered the owners of Slammers Cafe in White Marsh to ante up $9,800 in a similar case.

State urges caution on unregistered centers

Beware of Maryland health clubs that have not complied with a law requiring them to register with the state. They could be unhealthy for your bank account.

Avoid unregistered weight-loss centers. You could lose dollars without losing pounds.

And shun unregistered self-defense centers. It's a good way to protect yourself.

That's the advice from the state Attorney General's Office. It recently released a list of facilities that have complied with a state law designed to protect consumers when a business collects their initiation fees and then closes down.

The law required such businesses to register with the state by last September. The list includes all business that had registered by May 15 this year.

In addition to requiring registration, the law prohibits these businesses from collecting initiation fees of more than $200 or more than three months' advance payment unless they have posted a security bond with the Attorney General's Office to protect consumers. Nonprofit health clubs such as the YMCA are exempt from the law.

Consumers can obtain the list by calling the Consumer Protection Division at (410) 576-6350.

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