How Detroit Put a Rain Delay on El Paso's Stadium Financing

Detroit's bankruptcy rattled the muni bond market when El Paso needed it most.

There isn’t much that links a low-lying Texas border town like El Paso to a former northern industrial hotbed like Detroit—that is, there wasn’t until very recently, when the 1,700 miles stretching between the two suddenly seemed too close to officials in the southwestern city.

When Detroit began its official spiral into bankruptcy, it rattled the municipal market at exactly the time El Paso was issuing revenue-backed bonds to finance a new minor league baseball stadium. City officials say they made the best of a bad situation and ended up increasing the interest rate on their bonds, which closed last week, to make them more appealing. But some say El Paso’s ambition – the city had already broken ground on the stadium, part of a massive, bonded downtown revitalization -- forced it into a must-sell transaction that cost the city more money than it should have.


Many hope Rosecroft revival is on the way as reopening set

Long-beleaguered Rosecroft Raceway is slated to reopen Thursday after being closed for more than a year, the first step in what some believe will be a revival of the Prince George's County harness racing track.

Rosecroft will reopen for simulcast betting -- bets placed at Rosecroft on races being run at other harness tracks. Owner Penn National Gaming, which bought the Fort Washington track out of bankruptcy in February, plans to bring back live racing on Oct. 21. The 20 racing days will be the first season for the track since the former owner halted racing three years ago.

Live racing coming soon to Rosecroft?


Live horse racing may soon be back on it's way to Prince George's County's Rosecroft Raceway after a more than three year drought. The track's new owner, Penn National Gaming, was conditionally awarded a racing license this week by the Maryland Racing Commission.

Under the conditions set forth by the commission, Penn National, which bought the track out of bankruptcy earlier this year, must guarantee the track’s operations through 2012. Rosecroft must host 20 live racing meets through the end of this year and 54 in 2012. Under those conditions, racing can return to Prince George’s County as soon as August 1.


It isn't goodbye — it's catch you later, Baltimore!

On Thursday evening Fox Sports Radio in Baltimore, the home of Sports with Coleman, told its employees it was changing formats to an all-talk station. On Thursday morning they woke up with a job. On Thursday night they went to bed with no need to set their alarm for the next morning.

It was abrupt. But that's also radio. And it's an industry that — like the newspaper industry — is forever trying tweak, penny pinch, shave ... you get the point. And at the end of the day it's to the detriment of the listeners and fans and very much so to the talent who work their tails off.

I'd like to thank Jerry Coleman and his producer Pat O'Neill for having me join their show every Friday practically without fail for two and a half years. It was always one of the highlights on my week and gave me a format where I could be my casual-yet-still-informative self. I hope. Plus it gave me free advertising for my blog and you really can't beat that!

Jerry and Pat, I know you guys will land on your feet — talented people always do. I'm just glad we got to know each other these past few years and hope to work again with you both!

Manager Riggleman abruptly resigns from Nats

by Liz Farmer on Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 6:15pm


 Below is the press release the Nationals sent out following today's game against Seattle. The subtext here is that Riggs burned a big ol' bridge when he decided to leave the Nats. The release paints him as being demanding and unreasonable.

 If a guy leaves on good terms, they issue platitudes and boring, generic quotes. They don't say stuff that's this detailed. Read on.....

Redskins selling seats. Nope, not tickets -- seats.


In a thinly veiled ruse to make FedEx Field's capacity smaller so it doesn't look so pathetic halfway through the season when Redskins fans have stomached just about all they can, the team is selling off actual seats beginning Wednesday.

The seat removal is part of the team's end zone renovation in which two, standing-room-only party decks are being installed in place of several thousand seats. The team is selling off 800 actual end zone seats for $250 a pop. The money will go to the Redskins Charitable Foundation.

Redskins rank at bottom of barrel in fan value

Can't get no satisfaction
No D.C. team made the top 20 in fan satisfaction:

Overall rank Rank: Bank for buck Rank: Fan relations Rank: Rank Ownership Rank: Affordability Rank: Stadium experience Rank: Players Rank: Rank Coaching
Capitals 27 50 17 46 43 17 17 25 61
Nationals 78 87 73 73 44 66 75 83 91
Wizards 110 89 117 68 73 103 117 106 104
Redskins 121 112 121 112 121 112 118 74 62
Source: ESPN the Magazine
The Washington Redskins have fallen to nearly dead last in an annual rankings system that measures fans' return for their money and loyalty, evidence that fan dissatisfaction is beginning to trump the team's storied tradition.

The rating, released by ESPN The Magazine, comes despite Forbes' rating of the Redskins as the second-most financially valuable team in football and in the top 10 of all major leagues. But experts say the team's worsening relationship with its fans will start taking a financial toll.

Prince George's looking for leg up to woo Redskins HQ

Maryland officials on Tuesday approved a study that will help Prince George's County decide how much it will invest to lure the Washington Redskins headquarters away from Virginia.

The $25,000 feasibility study will tally up the potential economic benefits to the county -- including Redskins players' multimillion-dollar incomes and property taxes.

Prince George's, which requested the study, is paying for one-third of its cost. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development will match that amount, while the Maryland Stadium Authority, which is conducting the study, will cover the remaining third.

Long shuttle rides test fans' patience

Congressional Country Club may be a golfer's dream, but it's a commuting nightmare for the more than 45,000 daily visitors to the course this week for the U.S. Open Championship.

On the first day of the highly anticipated tournament, the U.S. Golf Association's transit plan of shuttling most visitors from remote lots in Maryland and Virginia was put to the test as the two-lane roads around Congressional and the distance from public transit tested golf fans' patience.

The system, which shuttles fans at no charge from two lots in Gaithersburg and a third parking lot at Washington Dulles International Airport, barely received a passing grade from attendees who have been to other golf championships. A fourth shuttle costs riders $8 per day and runs from the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station, but has sold out its available seats.

"I've been to five Opens, and this is the slowest of them all," said John Bush, of Toronto, as he waited on the shuttle at Grosvenor for 20 minutes Thursday.

Golf spending in region rises as U.S. Open begins

Bryn Briscuso and her daughter Nicole, 10, run a parking area for a friend nearly half a mile from the entrance to the U.S. Open in Potomac, Md., on Wednesday.-Andrew Harnik/Examiner
The U.S. Open Championship is expected to bring in $140 million this weekend for the Washington region -- an area where golf-related spending is increasing and bucking a national trend.

Spending in Maryland, home of host golf course Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, increased by 8 percent in 2010 compared with the prior year, a new American Express Business Insights report shows.

Spending, which includes retail and at golf courses, rose in Virginia by 5 percent and in Delaware by 12 percent. Data was not available for the District of Columbia.

U.S. Open set to bring $140m to area

The U.S. Open in Bethesda this week is expected to bring in$140 million in spending and an onslaught of visitors.-Andrew Harnik/Examiner
The U.S. Open Championship is expected to bring in $140 million in spending when the world's top

golfers tee off in Bethesda this week, but local residents and commuters are bracing for the onslaught of visitors that will descend on the Washington region's roads and rails for the blockbuster tournament.

The tournament, played at the prestigious Congressional Country Club, is expected to sell out with a total of 250,000 spectators through next Sunday -- even without Tiger Woods playing. And Montgomery County's 10,000 hotel rooms are sold out for the entire week, although the tournament itself doesn't kick off until Thursday and Monday marks just the beginning of practice rounds.

The fall of horse racing: is more really, well, more?


It's a tough question for horse racing enthusiasts: is subsidizing Maryland racing just ignoring the real issue? Sure we all love those iconic images from horse racing's heyday when tracks were the hot place to be and the clubhouse at Pimlico in Baltimore was teeming with society's elites.

But those days are long gone. Like decades ago long gone. Yet the fight to preserve the sport is still strong — in today's Washington Examiner story about Maryland racing's increasing reliance on other gambling, breeders say the sport needs a full season to keep horse farms here.

Horse farms are also good for tourism and a part of Maryland's proud history. Heck, the Maryland Jockey Club (founded in 1743) is older than the state itself. But even people who slept most of their way through Economics 101 can tell you that without demand, supply should dwindle.

Maryland horse racing gambles on slots

Getty Images
Saturday's Preakness Stakes highlights a Maryland

horse racing tradition in precarious transition, as an industry that long opposed other forms of gambling becomes dependent on its competition for survival.

Maryland horse racing isn't alone in its deepening reliance on other gambling to boost the payouts at racetracks. Tracks in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have been buoyed by slot machine profits for years and, more recently, table game revenue. Even Churchill Downs, home of the hallowed Kentucky Derby, is trying to bring slots to the track.

Give Washington basketball its bragging rights back

BB&T Classic (15 of 82)I smell fresh blood.

For the first time in a long time — perhaps ever — the Washington region’s men’s basketball scene is full of new faces. And we’re not just talking about the freshmen. George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs is out. In is Vermont’s Mike Lonergan, a native of Bowie and former assistant at the University of Maryland. The revered Gary Williams is finally retiring after more than two decades as Maryland’s head coach — replacing him is Texas A&M’s Mike Turgeon.

And not to mention Debbie Yow’s exit from her post as Maryland athletic director; replaced last fall by Kevin Anderson, the first African-American to hold the position at Maryland. Her GW counterpart, Jack Kvancz, retired in February and America East Conference Commissioner took his place last month.

Happy Friday! Best clip of the year

Keenan Cahill, the YouTube phenom who suffers from a rare disease, has teamed up with te Giants' Brian Wilson and Cody Ross -- and that wacky seal -- for this latest lip-syncing video. The video is part of a fundraiser Ross and Cahill are promoting that's taking place at a Giants game next month.

This is hands down the funniest thing I've seen all year and I've watched it five times so far -- you won't want to watch it just once, either! If you didn't love the misfit Giants before ... well, you're heartless if you still feel that way after watching this. Learn more about Cahill by clicking here. In the meantime, check out the video:

Jock tax coming to D.C. athletes?

D.C. Councilmen Jack Evans and Harry Thomas Jr. have proposed a bill that would tax the income of the District's nonresident professional athletes, estimating it could be a $5 million annual boon to the city.

Known as a "jock tax," the practice was first used by California in 1991 when it decided to tax Michael Jordon and the Chicago Bulls after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to Chi-town in that year's NBA finals.

Mythology lesson, Preakness style


We've all had our fun with Kegasus, the half-man, half-horse, beer-chugging mascot of the Preakness Stakes Infieldfest this year. But here's a fun (and by fun, we mean dorky) fact: the actual mythological creature Pegasus wasn't half-man, half-horse. That's a centaur. Oops!

Turns out the ad brains at Elevation Ltd. responsible for the controversial campaign actually do know the difference between a pegasus (the winged horse) and a centaur.

Dreary days for long-suffering Nats fans

At Nationals Park, the die-hards are few and far between, compared with the horde of casual observers and fans of the opposing team.-Andrew Harnik/Examiner
Gloomy skies and a cold drizzle ushered in the 2011 baseball season as the Washington Nationals played before the smallest Opening Day crowd since the squad's days in Montreal.

As with every new spring, most of the 39,055 fans were optimistic on Opening Day, even for a team that has yet to post a winning record since it moved here in 2005.

"I'm still thrilled, no matter how low the quality of the team, that Washington has a baseball team," said David Dreyer, a longtime D.C. resident.

Preakness promoters wooing back drinkers - er, crowds

The advertising brains at Preakness have drummed up a doosey this year. In a move that seems like a disproportionate apology for banning outside beverages in the infamous infield a few years ago, promoters are introducing a new mascot for the infield this year: Kegasus.

Half-man, half-horse, this lengendary figure (whose resume includes posing for romance novel covers and starring in an Old Spice television commercial) is sworn to return the Preakness infield to the joyous drunkfest so enjoyed by under-aged college kids the world over.

Md. tracks see new owner in subsidized 3-year plan

Maryland horse racing officials on Wednesday said the state’s racetracks needed a three-year government subsidy to give them more time for developing a long term plan, which will likely include consolidating into private ownership.

Penn National Gaming is considering selling back its 49 percent stake in Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, officials said. In turn, co-owner MI Developments would transfer total ownership of the two thoroughbred tracks to Frank Stronach, the founder of Ontario-based MID. Stronach was also chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp., the bankrupt former owner of Maryland’s tracks.