Two Detroit businessmen who reportedly had offered to up $6 million to help a group of Baltimore businessmen buy and keep the Orioles in Baltimore denied last night that they had made such an offer.
In a statement issued on behalf of himself and Max Fisher, Alfred Taubman said they were studying the possibility of becoming involved, but had made no commitment.
"Although we have looked at the club, we have not made any offers formally or informally," Taubman said. "At this time, purchase remains a business opportunity that we are considering. Any further comment would be premature."
The two men reportedly had been approached by Baltimore Mayor William D. Schaefer to aid local investors to match the $12 million offer for the club made by former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon.
The development appeared to put Simon ahead as the front-runner for the club, although the Orioles' principal owner, Jerald C. Hoffberger, rejected Simon's initial contract offer on Wednesday.
The Detroit news also came several hours after Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes said he would be willing to explore the possibility of a state loan for potential local buyers if they failed to raise adequate private capital.
In his first full day in office yesterday, Hughes said he had been contacted by Schaefer and a group of Baltimore businessmen about the prospects for such aid.
A similar plan fostered by former Gov. Marvin Mandel in 1975 to help Bill Veeck buy and keep the Orioles in Baltimore was defeated in the Maryland Senate after passing the House.
"I would be perfectly willing to explore the possibility of a loan, depending on the amount," Hughes said. He added that the sale of industrial revenue bonds was another possibility, but cautioned, "I don't think that can be done."
The new governor noted that the state has aided museums and symphonies in the past and could extend similar financial help to keep a ball club going.
Hughes said he had not given much thought to the logistics of any potential aid, adding, "My first hope is that it won't be necessary."
The governor's remarks in Annapolis came as Schaefer and a group of Baltimore businessmen reportedly were meeting with Hoffberger in Baltimore. The meeting could not be confirmed.
Although Hoffberger rejected Simon's initial contract proposal, he said that the fact there is a written proposal represents "a great step forward" in his negotiations with Simon.