- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

ANNAPOLIS (AP) A recent ruling by an arbitration panel on the stadium deals received by the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens may lead to more legislative scrutiny of the Maryland Stadium Authority.The panel found that the stadium authority essentially gave away the naming rights to the Ravens' stadium, failing to collect at least $10 million from the football team.

"When the members of the stadium authority come before the General Assembly in January or in summer session, I'm sure they are going to face questions," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat, told the Baltimore Sun.

In a case brought by the Orioles, a three-man panel of arbitrators ruled Friday that the Ravens contributed about $24 million to the construction of PSINet Stadium, rather than $34 million as the stadium authority testified.

The Ravens also were given the right to sell the name of the building to a corporate sponsor for free, not for $10 million as the stadium authority described in public comments and testimony before lawmakers and the Board of Public Works in 1997.

"As we view what was done … the Ravens effectively received the naming rights and $10 million in unique design elements without further cost to them," the panel, headed by former CIA chief William Webster, wrote.

"In substance, the Ravens effectively paid $24 million" of the cost of construction, arbitrators found.

The stadium was completed in 1998 at a cost to the state of $223 million. The Ravens later sold naming rights to PSINet in a deal worth more than $100 million.

The arbitrators Friday ordered the state to pay for $10 million in stadium improvements to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and gave the Orioles the naming rights to the stadium. They based that decision on the "parity" clause of the Orioles' lease, by which they are guaranteed comparable treatment to the Ravens.

The Orioles said they have no intention to sell the name of the stadium for now, but wanted to secure the right for the future.

Overall, Miller says the stadium authority has a good track record and does a "marvelous job."

But Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., the vice chairman of the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee, had harsher words for the authority. The Montgomery County Democrat said the ruling amounts to a $20 million loss to taxpayers.

"I will bring it up during [the stadium authority's] budget debate," he said.

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