He and Daniel worked out a plan in which the Stadium Authority agreed to pay $250,000 a year toward the utility charges. The nonprofit Hippodrome Foundation would make a one-time contribution of $500,000 to pay a portion of the debt, which would help lower the monthly utility payment. Add to that energy-saving measures, and Broadway Across America's heating and cooling bill would be reduced to a more manageable $600,000 a year.
The Stadium Authority would come up with the money by taking advantage of interest rates at historic lows. Refinancing and extending the bonds for five years would reduce the authority's debt payments by $330,000 a year.
In exchange, Broadway Across America would guarantee an annual ticket surcharge of at least $440,000. During boom times, every ticket sold in excess of 350,000 would generate an added 25 cents for the Stadium Authority.
"We believe that if we can shepherd the theater through this rough patch, the state of Maryland will be better off," Frenz said. "If the theater were to close, Baltimore would lose an important cultural resource and west-side development will be further hampered."
Kaliope Parthemos, deputy mayor for economic development and the city's representative on the Stadium Authority's board of directors, believes the board made the right decision in approving the refinancing plan.
"Next year, Everyman Theatre is going to move across the street from the Hippodrome," she said. "We think the neighborhood is going to be very successful as an entertainment destination. We told the theater operator that we will do what we can to increase police presence and make the area feel safer and more attractive for people. We've demonstrated that we're committed to helping the Hippodrome be a success."
If the Board of Public Works gives the go-ahead to the restructuring plan, Daniel said, Baltimore taxpayers and audiences should see results within the year.
"This plan isn't a silver bullet," he said. "But it would be a wildly helpful leg up that will have a major impact on our ability to perform in Baltimore, the region and the nation."
Attendance figures by fiscal year*:
2004-2005 – 318,086
2005-2006 – 402,566
2006-2007 – 272,632
2007-2008 – 246,804
2008-2009 – 195,617
2009-2010 – 176,539
2010-2011 – 184,000
Source: Maryland Stadium Authority
*The Hippodrome reopened in February 2004. Because it wasn't a full season, attendance for that fiscal year in not listed.