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Letter to the Editor: MSA column missed the mark

The recent opinion of The Daily Record’s Editorial Advisory Board (“Reforming the Maryland Stadium Authority,” Dec. 27) contained a number of errors about the mission and scope of the Maryland Stadium Authority, as well as inaccuracies about how our studies and projects are funded.

In the column, the board states that “MSA has an enormous amount of power to do what it wants, where it wants.” This is incorrect.

Before MSA engages in a study, we are required to seek the input of budget committees of the legislature; we have never undertaken a study where we have received negative comments from those bodies. The MSA does not select or solicit projects or studies, or act as advocates for projects. Our studies provide the independent due diligence for all parties to consider whether a project is feasible and what the return on the State’s investment will be.

The editorial referenced the recent Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse study as a “disaster for the Maryland taxpayer.” MSA undertook the assignment at the request of the City of Baltimore and the City Circuit Court of Baltimore, which paid $400,000 and $300,000, respectively, to cover the $700,000 (not $800,000, as you state) cost of the study. MSA did not fund this study.

The $8,000 cost of the Horse Park Study we were asked to perform is being borne entirely by the Maryland Horse Industry Board. MSA did not fund this study.

Whether the Hippodrome’s value to the arts community, quality of life and historic preservation still make it a “waste of government resources” can best be addressed by others. However, your assertion that MSA will pay the surcharge on tickets is false. As was reported in The Daily Record on July 12, this cost will be covered by the operator.

As for the Baltimore Grand Prix, in our deal with Baltimore Racing Development, we required an escrow account of $900,000 as security in order to reduce our risk. In the absence of cash to cover this commitment, BRD turned to MEDCO, a state agency with the ability to make loans for economic development projects. MSA had no involvement in BRD’s obtaining the $500,000 loan.

BRD did fail to make required payments to MSA after the race, and we were able to use escrow account funds to reduce our exposure. Although the race was financially unsuccessful its inaugural year, we still believe our loan will be repaid in subsequent years.

MSA does not decide what projects to pursue, nor determine how they will be funded. These are political decisions.

We do, however, provide relevant fiscal and risk analysis that allow state and local officials to make informed decisions. We are proud of the positive impact these collaborative projects have had on economic development, community revitalization, and quality of life for citizens throughout Maryland.

Michael J. Frenz

Executive Director