Group that stages festivities for Preakness makes comeback It clears $100,000 after troubled 1995

June 20, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

Maryland Preakness Celebration Inc., the nonprofit group that arranges festivities around the running of the famous horse race, finished $100,000 in the black this year.

"This is a remarkable turnaround from the substantial cash shortfall experienced in 1995 and ensures the continued viability of the Preakness Celebration," said Barry F. Scher, the group's chairman.

This year was the first time the group's events generated such high revenues after expenses, Scher said. The $100,000 will be used to help pay about $700,000 owed to about 60 creditors from last year's events, he said.

Last fall, most of the creditors were paid 10 percent of the money owed them.

Under the payment plan approved this month by the group's board, the creditors were divided into three groups -- those owed under $2,000, those owed $2,000 to $12,000 and those owed more than $12,000, officials said.

The plan calls for each creditor owed less than $2,000 to receive a check for 50 percent of the outstanding balance by the end of the month. Officials said they plan to pay those owed between $2,000 and $12,000 half of the outstanding balance before the end of this summer.

"We are sending those creditors this additional 50 percent upon the condition that it be accepted as payment in full," said Mark J. Friedman, an attorney for the Preakness group's board. "The creditors generally have been understanding and responsive to our payout plan, so my expectation is that there will be a very high acceptance."

Creditors owed more than $12,000 -- about a dozen companies and individuals -- are being handled case by case, he said.

The group ran into trouble last year after its week of events -- including street festivals, concerts, a ball, a parade and a hot-air balloon launch -- left it owing $1 million to more than 120 creditors.

The volunteer board blamed the group's problems on Donna Leonard, then executive director, although members acknowledged that they had given her authority to write checks and contract with vendors with little or no oversight.

Leonard was suspended without pay and later fired, Friedman said.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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