LIKE AN unhappy married couple, the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority are bickering, bickering, bickering. There's more anger and finger-pointing than rational discussion. But in this case, the couple can't file for divorce.

The most recent spat is over parking. Orioles management has been unhappy since construction began on the Ravens stadium next door. Overnight, the baseball team had a king-sized parking headache.

Oriole officials blame the stadium authority for failing to find alternative parking immediately. MSA officials maintain they did the best they could, given their limited condemnation powers and constraints on spending.

One side -- the Orioles -- wants a $35 million garage built across Russell Street. The other side wants an entertainment complex, with a parking garage, in-between the two stadiums. Each dislikes the other's proposal.

An across-the-street garage would take years to build, the MSA says, because it doesn't have condemnation powers in that area. The authority also says the price could rise to $45 million. There are also concerns about clogged traffic and displaced city businesses.

With equal force, the Orioles deride the between-stadiums complex for destroying Camden Yards' aesthetics. It would mean a further short-term parking loss. As for another MSA step -- condemning the Hammerjacks property for parking, the Orioles defiantly refuse to use it because it is too far away.

Things got so bad the two sides ended up in circuit court, quibbling over parking passes. Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan rightly called the lawyers into his chamber and told them to work it out through arbitration or negotiation -- but don't waste the court's time.

Neither side is going to win this war. Orioles owner Peter Angelos won't get MSA officials John Moag or Bruce Hoffman fired. And the MSA will never have a compliant tenant in the Orioles to rubber-stamp its actions.

Arbitration may resolve some of the financial disputes, but what is most needed is good-faith negotiation. The two parties must learn to work cooperatively. It harms the city, the baseball team and the state if parking and economic-development plans are stalled while the two sides continually bicker.

Pub Date: 4/26/97

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