WHEN IT COMES to the governor's planned football stadium at Camden Yards, opponents have seized the initiative. To hear them tell it, this sports complex south of Oriole Park will drain taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars for no purpose. They have built their demagogic argument on half-truths and haughty dismissal of the facts.
Listening to these naysayers, it is easy to conclude that returning the National Football League to Baltimore isn't worth the money. But when the real facts are examined, a different conclusion emerges. This proposal is a winner, both for loyal Baltimore sports fans and for the Maryland taxpayer. Here are some figures that doubters should consider.
Tax dollars flowing into the Maryland Stadium Authority from lottery proceeds will rise by a total of $28 million over the next three years. That is the full extent of the taxpayers' direct underwriting of the new stadium. And yet the new stadium will generate enough in direct tax revenue over the life of the bonds to pay all debt service and return that $28 million to the state treasury -- with a few million left over.
Add the $8.5 million in extra tax revenue generated during construction, and the 1,400 permanent jobs created once the stadium opens, and Maryland has scored a touchdown.
Look at it another way: What other economic-development project will create 1,400 jobs for such a modest state investment? Maryland is spending $20 million just to keep McCormick's spice distribution warehouse in-state. Net job increase: zero. Maryland is spending $24 million to bring Dr. Robert Gallo's AIDS research institute here: Net job increase -- four or five dozen. Both are worthwhile undertakings. But contrast these projects (cost to the state: $44 million) with the new stadium, which will use only $28 million in tax dollars to generate well over 1,400 new jobs.
Prior governors and legislatures supported a new football stadium in Baltimore because of the potential for new jobs and the stimulus this will give the city in the form of increased bar, restaurant and hotel business as well as the millions that will be spent here by Art Modell's club and the affluent players who decide to live year-round in Maryland.
Baltimore has waited patiently through a decade of lonely Super Bowls to get a new NFL football team. Now it has one -- if legislators will take the time to study the facts and figures carefully, and without emotion.