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Four on the fence Lawmakers weighing stadium deal know it would mean local jobs.


SEN. PHILIP C. JIMENO knows a new Baltimore football stadium would yield economic rewards for his Brooklyn Park district. The Democratic legislator saw how many northern Anne Arundel County businesses won contracts when Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built a few years ago. He also knows that, by being nearer the proposed stadium than any other part of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and Baltimore County will benefit more than all other jurisdictions in terms of construction jobs, income tax revenues and spinoff business for hotels, bars and eateries.

Pastore's, a Pasadena delicatessen, says Super Bowl catering doubled this year thanks to renewed interest in pro football -- and the new team isn't even here yet. "People were more into the spirit," said Pastore's co-owner Brian Metzbower. "They had just announced Cleveland was coming to Baltimore, and everywhere I turned people were talking about football."

Yet despite knowing the positive impact football would have on his district, Mr. Jimeno remains uncertain whether he will vote for Gov. Parris Glendening's $273 million deal to bring two NFL teams to Maryland.

He and others in Anne Arundel County's State House delegation -- Sen. Edward Middlebrooks, R-Severn; Del. James Rzepkowski, R-Glen Burnie, and Del. Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park -- are not satisfied with the agreements reached with team owners Art Modell and Jack Kent Cooke. An extra $24 million in sports lottery tickets is all the Baltimore stadium will cost the state. The lawmakers want Mr. Modell to take on that financial burden.

While negotiations continue to work out a compromise, risking the Baltimore football stadium for the sake of $24 million is shortsighted. While that sum would buy two middle schools today, the stadium would generate enough new business, income and sales taxes year after year to buy many more.

As savvy politicians, their caution is understandable, judging from bagloads of mail they've received from constituents who oppose the project. We think this vote will test local lawmakers' willingness to do what's best -- bringing the NFL back to Baltimore -- for Anne Arundel and Maryland.

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