In a move that caught Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke by surprise, Gov. Parris N. Glendening committed nearly $10 million in state funds last night for the demolition of the landmark Memorial Stadium by 2001.
"That is wonderful news tonight," said Schmoke, who was attending a meeting of the Eastern High School/Memorial Stadium Task Force where the announcement was made.
"We have to get that in writing," the mayor added.
The demolition could start as early as the summer of 1999, city officials said.
Marvin Masterson, the governor's representative at the meeting, said Glendening planned to allocate funds for the enormous demolition project over the next three fiscal years, starting with $850,000 in this year's proposed supplemental budget being considered in Annapolis.
Glendening also promised $6 million in the next budget year and another $3 million the year after that, Masterson said.
"The time line is the best news of all," said Sandra Sparks, executive director of Greater Homewood Community Corp.
Schmoke, who did not speak with Glendening before yesterday's announcement, claimed no credit for persuading the governor to take decisive action on perhaps the most important issue facing the North Baltimore neighborhoods of Waverly and Ednor Gardens.
"This is crucial to the community," said Schmoke. "The most important thing to maintain property values is certainty."
Sparks said residents near the 33rd Street stadium built in 1954 were concerned about the huge aging structure's standing vacant for a number of years, as it did beginning in 1992 when the Orioles moved to their new home downtown at Camden Yards. The Baltimore Ravens football team played its last game at Memorial Stadium last fall, ending a two-year stay.
Political pressure had been building on Baltimore's state delegates and senators to speed the process for the planned demolition of the stadium, city officials said.
Sen. Joan Carter-Conway, a Baltimore Democrat, said the agreement was reached in Annapolis late yesterday with the understanding that the state would provide more funds if necessary to complete the work.
Demolition of the nearly 30-acre site will take between 18 and 20 months, said Ed Cline, deputy director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, depending on the method.
But before demolition begins, he said, lead and asbestos abatement must be done, and that is projected to take nearly a year. During that time, the city will accept bids on the demolition, scheduled to begin in July 1999, he said.
"The best way is to get the conventional demolition and the implosion people to both bid," said Cline.
Schmoke said the stadium's facade, with distinctive lettering of its dedication, would be preserved in some venue.
The land cleared by the demolition could be used for a combination of housing, offices or open park space, said city planning director Charles Graves.
Pub Date: 3/19/98