ANNAPOLIS – The imminent demolition of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium was blocked Wednesday, when two members of the three-person Board of Public Works indicated they would not vote for its destruction – at least for a few weeks.
At the board’s bi-weekly meeting, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon both expressed concerns over Baltimore’s plan to build a $45 million, 404-unit subsidized community for senior citizens after the stadium disappears.
The demolition of the former home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and the National Football League’s now-Indianapolis Colts was expected to begin early next month. Now it will be put off at least until after the next Board of Public Works meeting in mid-December – and their criticisms are considered.
“Subsidized housing, even for seniors, is not good for the city,” said Schaefer.
“They need jobs. Subsidized senior housing does not provide a taxable base,” said the comptroller. He wants businesses built on the site, he said, which would bring more tax revenue.
He also wants to keep the stadium’s famous facade, a memorial to World War II veterans, intact on site.
The subsidized housing plan – which has the backing of Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and the Baltimore City Council – calls for its relocation.
Dixon questioned the plan’s finances, and said he has heard complaints from local and state politicians who represent neighborhoods around the stadium. He wants to put off the demolition until all grievances are aired.
“It needs to be a plan that’s compatible with their wishes,” he said.
O’Malley has not heard the same local grumbling as Dixon, said the mayor’s spokesman Tony White.
“Unless he hears something from the community, he intends to support the plan.”
The board did not actually vote Wednesday. Instead, the Maryland Stadium Authority – which had already selected the Baltimore firm Potts and Callahan to perform the $2.5 million demolition – pulled the request for approval before the meeting because it wouldn’t pass, according to a board staffer.
But Stadium Authority Deputy Director Edward Cline said it was done because of, “logistical problems.”
An arbitration hearing to settle a contract dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and the Stadium Authority began in Washington today. The Orioles want to bring the team’s lease terms for Oriole Park at Camden Yards up to par with the Baltimore Ravens’ lease at PSINet Stadium.
“The leadership needed to be at the (arbitration) hearing,” he said. Schaefer has strongly opposed the stadium’s destruction. But the plans have, thus far, had reliable votes in the other two board members, Dixon and Gov. Parris N. Glendening.
“The treasurer surprised me today. But he was right,” Schaefer said.
Glendening, who was in Washington state during Wednesday’s meeting, sent Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in his place.
The governor, said spokeswoman Raquel Guillory, said the stadium will be demolished, it’s just a question of when.
“It’s not urgent.” she said. “With courtesy to Dixon, the administration is willing to give him more time to review the project, and make sure that he has his concerns addressed.”