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The Browns are a blessing City wins big: Huge economic impact, magnet for new businesses, heightened civic spirit.


ENOUGH OF THIS gnashing of teeth and mean-spirited negativism over the move of the Browns football team to Baltimore. The club's owner said he had no choice financially but to leave Cleveland. That Baltimore was at the top of the list of possibilities, with a can't-miss offer, should be a source of pride, not hypocritical caterwauling.

Baltimore won a big one this week. This is a victory for the city and region. We are now truly a major-league town again -- year-round.

Look at the huge economic boost this will give our region: Total impact on the economy of $123 million per year, $17 million in state and city taxes per year and 1,400 permanent, full-time jobs. That's not even counting the $200 million to be spent on local workers and companies as the Camden Yards football stadium is erected over the next 32 months.

Look at the leverage this means for economic development officials as they try to gain an edge over competitors in the quest for new businesses. Moving to Baltimore now gives a corporate CEO major-league baseball, major-league football and the Chesapeake Bay at his doorstep. All a short drive from the nation's capital and an hour's plane trip from the nation's financial center. It's a great sales tools.

Look at what this means to our civic pride and self-esteem. Rooting for a professional sports team brings a region together, brings races together. Think back to the Cal Ripken celebrations in September at Camden Yards and you get some idea what sports can do for a city's self-image, a state's pride and this town's national reputation.

The price to lure the Browns was steep, but let's put it in perspective. This stadium will be financed through bonds paid off by instant lottery tickets. We've been doing that for seven years at Oriole Park and no one has complained. The financing of the new football stadium won't be any different. As for the steep fees to get a seat, this is a one-time charge that will not come from tax dollars but from fans who live and die for NFL football, especially of the local variety. What's wrong with that?

Baltimore had a piece of its heart and soul wrenched out when we lost the Colts 11 years ago. The team was a part of this community, a local institution we treasured. Now the Browns have arrived. An enlarged and spiffed-up Memorial Stadium will come alive with the sounds of the NFL once again -- and in just 32 months, we will have a luxury football stadium sure to be the envy of most American cities. The Browns are a blessing for Baltimore in every way possible. This city's future just got brighter.

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