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Letters to the Editor - Feb. 27

February 27, 2012

Stadium improvements don’t always mean bigger crowds


To the editor:

Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys, is 22 years old. It holds 5,000 fans; Hagerstown’s stadium holds about 4,000. The Keys ticket prices are about $2 more than the Suns, general and reserved admission. The Keys average attendance is about 4,000 fans per home game or about 80 percent of capacity, twice as much as the Suns average of 1,900-plus, which is about 50 percent capacity. The Keys signed a new 10-year lease with the City of Frederick in September 2011. The new lease increases the stadium rent from $30,000 to $100,000 per year. The Suns pay the City of Hagerstown $1 a year.

In 1994, attendance at Suns games was 128,508. In 1995, improvements amounting to $500,000 were made to the Hagerstown stadium, including new seats, upgrading the VIP area, and the addition of a grill and bar area. Attendance in 1995 dropped to 113,438. In 1996, attendance dropped to 102,765. In the last 18 months, according to Mr. (Tony) Dahbura, the Suns have invested an additional $800,000 in stadium improvements. Attendance for 2010 was 135,799. Attendance for 2011 dropped to 125,593, less than it was in 1994. So much for the importance of stadium improvements in increasing attendance. Perhaps the owners of the Suns, instead of trying to get the city to make more improvements to the stadium, should first look toward improving the quality of the team.

To paraphrase a Bloomberg News recent editorial: Public stadium financing almost never generates worthwhile economic benefit and that “teams should shoulder the heaviest financial burden in any deal.”

I trust that the costs and benefits of any new/improved stadium will be discussed in open sessions.


George Anikis
Fairplay




State should not shift pension costs to the counties


To the editor:

The General Assembly is currently debating a proposal from Gov. O’Malley to shift hundreds of millions in pension costs from the state to the county governments. Counties disagree that this shift will do anything to improve the sustainability of state pension funding. County governments don’t run the pension system, don’t negotiate teacher salaries, and did not create these costs. But the governor’s budget sends this ticking time bomb to the county governments, who would simply have to pay the freight without any say in the system or its costs.

In Washington County alone, the new county cost for the coming year is $5,530,495. The fiscal staff in Annapolis says that would grow immediately to $7,126,075 the next year, and all the way to $8,290,885 over the next three years. That kind of burden would put massive pressure on the county’s taxpayers, and to the public services our citizens deserve and on which they depend.

The state should resist the temptation to balance its budget on the backs of our counties. We urge our senators and delegates to stand in opposition to these massive cost shifts.


Terry L. Baker, president
Washington County Board of Commissioners

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