A task force of Baltimore businessmen appointed to study the future of the city's aging Memorial Stadium has recommended that a $170 million sports facility be built near the Inner Harbor to house the Orioles and a possible NFL football franchise.
J. Henry Butta, chairman of the corporate task force, met for the first time yesterday with Bernard Manekin, who headed Gov. Harry Hughes' sports study group. The Manekin group suggested last month that a $166 million stadium be built with state bonds and the proceeds from a sports lottery.
A majority of the Manekin panel's members have said they favor putting the new facility in Lansdowne, a neighborhood on the southwest edge of the city just off Rte. I-95.
Butta's group, however, has insisted that the city will benefit more from a facility built within the city near downtown and Rte. I-395. It did not suggest how to pay for the proposed open-air, natural grass stadium.
In this latest in a series of studies on Memorial Stadium's future, Butta's group concluded that it would cost $57 million to renovate the existing 33rd Street facility and that would leave the city with "at best a C-plus football stadium and perhaps a B-minus baseball stadium."
The $300,000 report has been paid for by Maryland businesses, Butta said.
In opting to support Mayor William Donald Schaefer's oft-stated preference for a new stadium built within the city limits, Butta said in a prepared statement that he is "confident" that NFL football will return to Baltimore within the "forseeable future." The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
Twenty-two sites, not including the Lansdowne location favored by the state sports panel, were evaluated for the Butta task force. The 33rd Street location was ruled out in part, Butta said, because 20 to 24 percent of the Orioles' fans come from the Washington area.
"Some Orioles officials believe that the current location discourages additional fans from Washington who didn't wish to drive through downtown Baltimore and out to Memorial Stadium," the Butta statement read.
The Camden Yards site, the report found, would provide five times the parking now available at Memorial Stadium.