With no funds for razing, Memorial Stadium to stand


As the Maryland Stadium Authority regroups, this much is certain: Memorial Stadium will stand, at least for a while, ready to be the temporary home for football in case Baltimore lures an NFL team from another city, or if a Canadian Football League franchise settles here.

Money, or the lack of it, is keeping the 39-year-old stadium alive.

Demolition costs are estimated at between $5 million and $10 million, and neither the city nor the state can afford to take it down. (The price tag would range toward $10 million if lead and asbestos complicate the environmental clean-up.)

The 1987 legislation that provided funds for building two stadiums at Camden Yards didn't include money for tearing down Memorial Stadium and clearing the nearly 60 acres along 33rd Street.

Third District Baltimore City Councilman Wilbur E. Cunningham, whose home looks out on Memorial Stadium, said he has a letter signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer pledging that the Maryland Stadium Authority will ask the General Assembly for the demolition funds when the time comes.

Meanwhile, "The development process should begin," Cunningham said.

City development officials and neighborhood representatives haveagreed on a dream plan, an array of market-rate houses, offices and a park. Cunningham said the city should start looking for developers.

"At the same time, the stadium authority can be out looking for a football team to steal. Development doesn't happen overnight," he said.

"This should be a prime development parcel," Cunningham added. "Where else can you find nearly 60 open acres in the city?"

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said: "I'm going to have to sit down with some other city officials and community leaders and discuss our options. Of course, we had planned on having the new team play here. But I really can't discuss any future plans until I have the meetings."

Michael Seipp, of the Baltimore Development Corp., said his agency within days will begin work on more specific development plans to bring to a neighborhood task force for approval. And then it can begin looking for developers.

Johns Hopkins is among those interested, though Seipp would not say what project the university and hospital might want the property for.

"It's not going to happen overnight," said Brian Hannon, a real estate agent and former president of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association. "We're going to have to be patient."

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