Thursday, December 15, 2005

Blazing Saddles

Wow, I'll confess, it's been some time since I've seen action this quick from state and local government. On Monday, December 5, the County Council approved the money to carry out the study of a horse stadium in Gambrills, and Tuesday, December 13th, just over a week later, the Maryland Stadium Authority (MDSTAD) released the first drawing of the proposed stadium there. Do you think MDSTAD officials had a pretty good idea that the County Council was going to part with the $75,000 for the feasibility study?

The project executive for the park, Gary McGuigan, told the Senate Finance Committee, "The idea is, once you get on the site, it appears rural and beautiful." Well what do you know, go visit the site right now, and it's "rural and beautiful." We could save the state $100 million and ensure it stays that way. The good news for opponents of the horse stadium is that at least a few of Committee members seem to have their critical faculties in tact. Senator J. Robert Hooper (R-Harford) offered, "As a business person, I hate to look at something that starts off as a loss to begin with," and Sen. Mac Middleton (D - Charles) has fresh memories of the botched Hughesville Stadium deal dancing in his head.

One thing that keeps popping up in this discussion from the proponents of horse stadium is that they have to go to Pennsylvania or some other far off locale to exercise their horses. It stretches credulity to suggest there aren't other locations in the rural portions of Anne Arundel County or at the county-owned Andy Smith Equestrian Center where horses can "exercise." The claim rings even more hollow given that the Show Place Arena, the Prince George's County's equestrian center is right over the Anne Arundel County line, in Upper Marlboro, about 30 minutes from Annapolis. Why does the state need two huge, public equestrian centers located within a short drive of one another?



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