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Zuckerman Spaeder LLP Clients Win Right to Advertise on Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena After Seven-Year Battle

August 23, 2010

After more than seven years of litigation, the owner of the Baltimore Blast (Baltimore's major indoor soccer team), represented by Zuckerman Spaeder LLP partners Herbert Better and P. Andrew Torrez, won a major victory over a group of local land owners led by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos. This matter stemmed from a dispute regarding advertising at the 1st Mariner Arena, home of the Blast.

Across the country, as an important financial incentive to retain their professional sports teams, cities commonly permit team owners to place general advertising signs on stadiums and arenas and to share in resulting advertising revenues. In 2003, the Mayor and Baltimore City Council enacted three ordinances that, taken together, would permit the construction of such general advertising signs at the 1st Mariner Arena. Immediately thereafter, the Angelos-led group moved to stay the legislation; Zuckerman Spaeder successfully opposed that effort. The Angelos group then filed two parallel lawsuits seeking to invalidate the ordinances and force the removal of the signs. The Baltimore City Solicitor's Office, co-counsel in the case, represented the interests of the Mayor and City Council.

After five years of struggling over complicated jurisdictional matters—during which time the case was considered twice by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and once by the Court of Appeals—the case finally proceeded to a hearing on the merits in September 2008. On December 29, 2008, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City decided in favor of Zuckerman Spaeder’s clients, the Mayor, and City Council. The Circuit Court decision upheld the legislation authorizing the placement of the billboards on the 1st Mariner Arena, as well as affirmed the specific conditional use for the billboards themselves. That decision was affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals on May 5, 2010. P. Andrew Torrez argued the case at the merits hearing and on appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. The Angelos group then petitioned for a writ of certiorari, which Zuckerman Spaeder opposed. The Court of Appeals of Maryland denied the petition for certiorari on August 23, 2010, letting stand the decision of the Court of Special Appeals and finally bringing to a close more than seven years of litigation.

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