Just a month into his quest to build a County Coliseum, local hockey team owner Michael A. Caggiano is already on financing Plan B.
Under Plan A, Caggiano had been seeking a mix of public dollars and tax breaks -- even more than previously disclosed, according to an Oct. 2 accountant's report obtained by The Sun. That version, presented to Baltimore County officials this month, sought:
A $19.5 million county loan.
A 20-year exemption from property taxes while the county loan was repaid.
Nearly $1 million a year in state funding.
An exemption from paying roughly $1 million a year in admissions taxes.
But after getting a chilly response from county officials, Caggiano, the owner of the Baltimore Bandits, said yesterday, "Plan A is history."
He has backed off his requests for the $19.5 million loan and property tax breaks and is looking to private sources to bankroll his dream, planned for 33 acres in Lansdowne-Halethorpe.
His comments come after County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger put the brakes on any county financing, saying he saw no need to fund an arena that would compete with existing or planned sports complexes in the city.
Financing questions played a role in Ruppersberger's reply, too.
Said Ruppersberger spokesman Michael H. Davis: "It's got to make some financial sense for the county. And looking at what they [were] proposing, it doesn't make any financial sense. There would be no return for 20 years."
Even County Council members eager for a new arena said they would only bankroll the project if it were to generate a good return for the county.
Caggiano took the cue.
In an interview yesterday, he said he had torn up Plan A.
"The property tax issue, the $19.5 million loan are absolutely not what we have on the table now," Caggiano said. "I cannot stress enough how preliminary those numbers were. And we will have no financing from the county or state. Period.
"That's why we tore up that projection."
Under Plan B, Caggiano said he wants to make the $42.5 million project come to life with $37.5 million in private financing and $5 million in his equity.
"We know what the political climate is," Caggiano said. "We know the county and state want it to be privately financed. We're doing absolutely everything in our power to make that private financing as full as possible."
Still, he plans to seek public support. It would come through a yearly state contribution of $500,000 to $900,000. And a break on admissions taxes likely to equal about $1 million a year.
Even with those numbers, Caggiano is basing the coliseum's success on optimistic projections.
They call for 166 events a year, including 20 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball games, four truck-tractor pulls, three NCAA conference tournaments, two National Hockey League games and other events including concerts, family shows and religious functions.
He's also banking on 41 home games a year for the Bandits -- and expecting an average attendance of 6,500.
That would represent an 80 percent increase from last year, when the Bandits drew about 3,600 a night.
Caggiano hopes the coliseum will have a corporate sponsor whose name would decorate the arena. He hopes the "naming rights" would generate $500,000 to $800,000 in 1999. And he hopes to sell 20 to 40 sky boxes annually at $30,000 to $45,000 apiece.
Pub Date: 10/24/96