City sees red over Whitbread Official foresees a $25,710 loss from famed sailboat race

'We should be honored'

Business, maritime advocates say prestige of event is worth price

March 24, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Annapolis could lose as much as $25,710 when the city plays host to the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race next month, city officials said at a public hearing last night.

The city expects to collect a little more than $70,000 in revenues from the state, the Spring Boat Show and the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, but the city will lose money unless other funding is found, city Administrator Walter N. Chitwood III told the city council last night.

The city liquor board granted Whitbread planners a liquor license last week to serve beer during three days of the four-day event, but made the license contingent on city council approval of the lease with Whitbread Chesapeake Inc.

Chitwood, testifying before the council last night regarding the lease, said the four days of festivities on city grounds -- including a fireworks display -- will cost about $148,710.

He said there is a possibility the fireworks display will be dropped, which could save about $20,000 for police protection.

In recent weeks, residents have voiced concerns about noise, costs and problems from alcohol sales. Last night, some questioned city officials' judgment in their planning for the event.

"I think we should be making money on such a big event, but it sounds like we're losing money here," said city resident Minor Carter. "There should be some minimal way this event can be handled where we should break even.

"It's a fine event," Carter added. "There's no question about it. We're a fine city. People want to come here. But coming here for a sailing event is as good for them as it should be for us."

Both sides showed up last night to voice support or criticism for the city's plans to set up a Whitbread Village around the City Dock area.

Representatives of local businesses and the maritime industry asked the council to approve the lease because of the economic benefits the race will bring.

"The reputation of Annapolis' maritime prowess will be enhanced by this event," said Ted Ruegg, president of the Anne Arundel Marine Trades Association. "Other cities fight for years to host events of such stature. We should be honored that the Whitbread race is coming to our corner of this world."

Whitbread Chesapeake Inc. officials are estimating that about 500,000 people will attend the two-week Whitbread celebration that begins in Baltimore April 22.

The event will move to Annapolis April 30 before the boats continue on to France on May 3.

"This is an opportunity to gain international recognition for Annapolis as a sailing town," Chitwood said. "We see this as an opportunity to showcase Annapolis to business executives who might put their businesses here."

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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