City officials moved quickly today to quash any notion that the Baltimore Orioles would play baseball in the suburbs if a decision is made to abandon Memorial Stadium and build a new sports complex.
The issue surfaced today for the first time since a group of Baltimore businessmen on Tuesday recommended building an $80 million multipurpose stadium for the Orioles and a future professional football team.
The Regional Planning Council, a 25-member group made up of representatives from six Baltimore-area governments, considered a motion today to conduct a study of possible suburban locations for a stadium, but deferred any action at the request of city lawmakers. The move was interpreted as a victory for the city, where efforts are already under way to identify possible sites for a new sports complex.
"I'm happy it didn't go forward," said Baltimore City Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, who endorsed a 146-acre site in South Baltimore for the new stadium.
Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams, who favors a new stadium, was unavailable for comment.
Lawrence Lucchino, the team's general counsel, said the stadium's location is a "critical issue," but added he did not know if Williams preferred one location over another. "In real estate," he said, "location is always the key issue. Why build a beautiful stadium if no one can get there?"
Howard County Executive J. Hugh Nichols, who chairs the council, disclosed today that two developers, whom he refused to name, had approached him about locating a stadium in Howard.
Nichols said the overture was enough to prompt him to visit the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority complex over the Christmas holidays to see if a similar facility could be built here.
The facility, known as the Meadowlands, consists of a sports arena, a stadium and a race track. With more than $133 million in revenues last year, the complex more than paid for itself, he said.
Nichols said a similar approach should be taken in Maryland, noting that a stadium alone would require a huge public subsidy to operate.