Stadium authority has cash cushion Dependence on lottery projected to end sooner

January 22, 1998|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Stadium Authority, which usually comes before the General Assembly seeking money, has a different pitch this year: It may not need as much money as it thought for some of its big projects.

Stadium authority executive director Bruce Hoffman told members of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday that preliminary projections suggest the twin-stadium Camden Yards project may be able to meet debt payments on its bonds without lottery funds a few years earlier than once thought.

The agency is building a $220 million stadium for the Ravens and is consuming $32 million a year in lottery funds. The stadium's financial plan has always assumed a gradual reduction in the need for lottery money, and Hoffman said that reduction is now projected to begin in fiscal year 2000 and possibly reach zero as soon as 2013.

Projected revenues are stronger than expected from parking, party rentals at the stadiums, rental of office space in the warehouse adjacent to Oriole Park, and of the baseball museum scheduled to be built at Camden Station.

"Our goal is to be independent of any subsidy," Hoffman said.

Also, the $30 million expansion of the Ocean City Convention Center, which the stadium authority oversaw, has generated more cash than expected. Bond proceeds were invested through the state treasurer's office. The returns have left the stadium authority with about $1 million more than projected.

Hoffman said the money will be used to pay interest on bonds for a year or two. That will free the state's general fund from having to make those payments, as had been planned originally.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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