Stadium authority says it’s poised to bring more events to Md.

Daily Record Business Writer
February 11, 2009 6:47 PM

ANNAPOLIS — Fresh off of winning the bid to host the 2010 and 2011 NCAA lacrosse Final Four in Baltimore, Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Morton III told legislators Wednesday that while the agency expected a decrease in revenue this year, it was poised to be a revenue generator for the state’s future.

“When I worked on the [2012] Olympic bid, one of the things we took away from that is that there were hundreds of events taking place every year that our state was just missing,” Morton told the House Appropriations Committee’s Education and Economic Development Subcommittee. “We had the transportation and infrastructure in place ... but no consolidated effort or logistic approach to how we were going to loop in on this.”

With a new sports marketing director in place who last month submitted a report stating that Maryland had at least 380 venues that could be marketed to the national and international sporting world, Morton said progress had been made but was far from complete. While the agency has helped to boost the number of events hosted at the Camden Yards sporting complex by 25 percent since 2004, it expects revenues from those events to fall this year due to the recession.

“I don’t want anyone to think ... that one person is going to bring in a whole stream of events,” Morton added. “We need private and public money to make this happen.”

For its part, the stadium authority, which oversees the Camden Yard Sports Complex, pledged to have a heavier hand in managing operations. In October, The Daily Record reported that Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, one of the authority’s tenants in Camden Station owned nearly $700,000 in outstanding rent and fees. Its other Camden Station tenant, the Sports Legends Museum also owed about $87,500 at one point last year.

Both museums are now in good standing with the state agency.

“We’ve had some recent embarrassments around some of our tenants and I don’t want that to happen again,” Morton told the committee. “We also pledge to live within our budget this year.”

The recommendation the subcommittee has now would put the authority’s fiscal 2010 budget at $86.6 million, which includes $7.2 million to pay for the five-year capital improvement plan for the Warehouse and Oriole Park. The authority’s 2009 budget is $79.4 million.