The owners of the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc. and the Capital Centre have patched up a long-standing feud, agreeing yesterday to bring the Greatest Show on Earth back to Baltimore.

The two local companies have been growling at each other like lions and tigers in the center ring for years, but the prospect of more business tamed the pair.

"It was an economic decision that kept us out {of Baltimore} and not some romantic media-generated fight ... and now all the sticking points have been ironed out and we're in again," said Allen J. Bloom, executive vice president at Ringling.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Ringling once again," said Abe Pollin, chairman of the Landover-based Centre Group, which manages the Baltimore Arena along with Fairfax's George Mason Patriot Center. The company also owns the Cap Centre, the Washington Bullets basketball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team.

A decades-old dispute between Ringling's ringmasters -- the Feld family -- and Pollin kept the circus and the Feld-produced Walt Disney's World on Ice out of the Baltimore Arena and other arenas owned or managed by the Centre Group.

Even though the circus had performed at the downtown Baltimore Arena for a quarter-century, Ringling pulled its shows from the arena when Pollin's company received the five-year management contract in 1988.

At the time, officials of the Tysons Corner-based Ringling blamed the problems on ticket surcharges and receipt percentages demanded by Pollin. But sources say that the problem dated to a previous dispute between Pollin and the late impresario Irving Feld over Feld's interest in owning a piece of Pollin's Washington Capitals. Kenneth Feld, son of Irving and president of Ringling, was also reportedly irked by some Centre policies.

"It was a tough relationship," said a source close to both companies. "But with the slow economic times, both sides decided that the disagreement was less important than getting something good from each other." Details of the agreement were not revealed.

Discussions are continuing over moving the Disney World ice show from the D.C. Armory to the Cap Centre, according to officials. But it is unlikely, they say, that the circus would ever leave the Armory.

"The circus is established at the Armory and it's going to stay there," said Ringling's Bloom.