Council grants boat show lease for same weekend as Whitbread Crowding feared on last weekend of April

March 10, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council voted unanimously last night to grant a lease to the Spring Boat Show despite concerns that it might create a logistical nightmare downtown because it will be held the same weekend the Whitbread Round the World Race yachts are in town.

Both events will take place on the last weekend in April, and some fear that will strain hotels, marinas, parking lots and the patience of city residents. Hundreds of thousands of Whitbread followers are expected to descend upon Annapolis at the same time thousands more come for the annual boat show.

Last night, city resident Tony Evans expressed renewed concerns about both events, especially about how the city is handling the Whitbread activities. He was the only resident to testify before the nine-member council in City Hall.

"I don't have any problems with either event coming to town, but I am concerned about how it's going to affect the city," Evans said after questioning the council's plan for Whitbread. "I don't think the city has planned this very well at all. But, I'm especially concerned about the Whitbread activities because in all the talk leading up to this, a big party at the end of the dock was never talked about at all.

"I think a lot of people are concerned about what all of this will do to the downtown."

No Whitbread or boat show officials testified last night. Council members introduced an ordinance to authorize a lease of the harbor and Dock Street to Whitbread Chesapeake Inc., which is helping to organize the events in Baltimore and Annapolis when the race arrives.

The ordinance was referred to the council's Economic Matters Committee.

Whitbread officials said they were dismayed to learn that the city had scheduled the two boating events for the same weekend.

The nine Whitbread racing boats are expected to attract about 500,000 people when they stop in Maryland for two weeks during their 31,600-mile sailing competition. The Whitbread celebration will start in Baltimore April 22. The race boats will continue to Annapolis April 30, then head for France May 3.

The Spring Boat Show, sponsored by Annapolis Boat Shows, is an 8-year-old event that is expected to bring 125 boats and 6,000 visitors when it starts April 30.

The boat show will take up dock space at the Yacht Basin Co., near the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront hotel.

Because the Annapolis harbor is small and shallow, a pier is being built off the Naval Academy Visitors Center. Deeper waters there are expected to better accommodate the Whitbread boats' 12 1/2 -foot keels.

Four days of Whitbread festivities are being planned around Annapolis, most of them at Susan Campbell Park on the City Dock and at Eastport.

Pub Date: 3/10/98

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