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Hagerstown invests in ice rink's promoter

February 06, 1997
(Page 2 of 2)

Dill said he will receive no salary as executive director but that his wife, Debbie Dill, will earn a small salary as day manager of the rink.

Dill traced his interest in building an ice rink in Hagerstown back to his daughters, Danielle, 12, and Tina, 11.

"Basically there's nothing here. My girls love to play hockey," he said.

Dill intends to make the rink a family affair. His wife plans to run an after-school program there that will mix skating with periods off the ice for homework.

A marketing study commissioned by the foundation showed "overwhelming" support for both a rink in Hagerstown and government support of it, Dill said.

Dill said he paid $50,000 of his own money for the marketing study and for accounting, attorney and miscellaneous fees associated with the rink.

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"I believe enough that I'll invest $50,000 of my family's money for something that I'm not going to own," he said.

The city of Hagerstown will own the 36,000-square-foot, $2.2 million ice rink and the Washington County Sports Foundation will lease it for 20 years, Dill said.

The foundation will repay the city's $1.2 million loan, plus almost 5 percent interest, on a monthly basis over 15 years, Dill said. For the remaining five years the foundation will pay the city $1 a year.

A formal agreement

On Jan. 31, city officials formalized an agreement requiring the foundation to raise a minimum of $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions before the city's $1.2 million loan kicks into the project.

The city's engineer and finance director will verify the cash donations and the fair market value of all in-kind donations before any of the city's money is released, Sager said.

Since December, the foundation has raised about $593,000, in cash and in-kind services of the approximately $800,000 it must contribute to the project, Dill said.

There is no risk for the city because even if the rink fails the city will get a $2.2 million sports facility for only $1.2 million, he said.

A successful rink will create at least a dozen jobs and bring about $4.2 million a year into the local economy as parents and children who travel here for hockey tournaments patronize area motels, restaurants and stores, Dill said.

The city also will get 10 percent of the rink's gross revenues in lieu of taxes and any excess revenues above what's needed for expenses and reserves, Dill said. Sager estimated the city's share would be about $50,000 a year.

Dill proudly points to his local record as proof that he can make this rink work.

"We are aggressive in what we do. If you look at how much we've done in a short time ... We're very energetic. We're very driven to make this a success," he said.

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