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How two Germans almost bought Ravens' stadium over unpaid water bill

It appears that an unpaid water bill allowed German investors to briefly claim rights to owning the Baltimore Ravens‘ football home, M&T Bank Stadium.

The $5,200 bill was in arrears, which allowed the real-estate investors to purchase the lien on the stadium on Monday (as well as the Baltimore Orioles‘ Camden Yards) and — for a few nervous hours — it appeared they might have the right to claim ownership of both prized buildings if the debts remain unpaid, according to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker almost had his team’s stadium bought by German investors, except for a government error. (AP)

Of course, the Maryland Stadium Authority, which manages both stadiums, disputed both the amounts owed on the water bills and the veracity of the sale, and city officials admitted the following day that a computer error was to blame and that the sales would be revoked.

Still, this is an unfortunate and embarrassing error. This is the kind of thing that typically happens to the Browns or Jets, not the Ravens. But achtung! (That’s German for “stay woke.”) The point of the story, we think, is that with bureaucratic error, anyone can be a victim.

It also hearkens back to an amusing story from the Ravens’ first year in Baltimore in 1996 when local officials tried to hit the team on water bills from its run-down former headquarters (where the Colts used to train) that had gone unpaid back to when it was a police training facility.

“A month after we opened at the building, the water bills hadn’t been paid for seven or eight years,” former Ravens director of facilities Chuck Cusick told Shutdown Corner last summer. “They showed up with a massive bill and wanted us to pay it. They figured, it’s an NFL team, they’ll cut us a check. Yeah, right. Obviously, that didn’t fly.”

But hey, this recent development has an interesting parallel to current league interests. NFL officials have hinted for years that Germany might be the league’s next frontier for international expansion. It appeared for a brief moment that we might have the Baltimore Helmuts redesigning their logos in due time. Justin Tucker should add an umlaut to his name, which would look pretty slick.

TÜCKER. That would sell like schnitzel in our minds.

The reported price, too, was stunning: a mere $21 million for the 71,000-seat venue. Heck, the real estate it sits on alone is certainly worth more than that. The German investors had a little fun with the whole thing, even if Baltimore officials found no humor in the fairly embarrassing snafu.

“We already told them we will switch it to a soccer place, we will sell it to a German soccer team,” one of the investors, Herbert Baeuerle of Home Trust Inc., joked via Marketwatch.

It’s all water under the bridge now, but it had to make a few Charm City folks less than tickled when it first crossed their desks.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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