ANNAPOLIS – In the Legislature’s first vote on the state’s controversial NFL deals, the House Appropriations Committee gave an overwhelmingly favorable report Friday to two bills concerning the proposed stadium at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
The committee voted 24-1 in favor of both bills, with little debate despite the presence of several stadium opponents.
One measure, sponsored by Del. Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, says that any state proceeds from the sale of permanent seat licenses at Baltimore must be used to defray stadium costs.
Before he voted in favor, outspoken stadium opponent Del. Robert Flanagan, R-Howard, said the measure “has been compared to putting perfume on a skunk.”
Flanagan said he and other opponents of both the Baltimore stadium and another NFL deal for the Washington Redskins in Prince George’s County will try to eliminate stadium funding when the Legislature considers the budget next month.
“No one should erroneously conclude that there is a consensus on the stadiums,” Flanagan said.
But Rawlings was confident that Marylanders will get a Baltimore football stadium: “We think this bill is well crafted enough to pass both the House and the Senate.”
The other measure, sponsored by Rawlings and a long list of others, authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to borrow $24 million to cover NFL owner Art Modell’s share of construction.
The bill, created to appease stadium foes who decried the project’s $200 million price tag, specifies that Modell’s football team must repay the loan.
Though it gives the Stadium Authority the power to set repayment terms, the proposal includes a schedule of its own concerning private luxury suites. Under the bill, the debt for construction of the suites must be repaid in 30 years, and the debt for furnishing the suites repaid in five years. -30-