Thursday, February 26, 2009

More on the tennis facility

I am a little skeptical of the proposed 30-court tennis complex that is proposed for Elkridge. I was initially unclear as to how the facility was supposed to be funded. At first I thought that private corps would fund the whole thing, but then I began to suspect that the County would at least be asked to guarantee the debt which was expected to be paid by user fees. According to Explore Howard, the entire facility is supposed to funded with private money and was approved on the basis that the thing could be built without money from the county. The group spearheading the project would just be leasing land already owned by the county. If that is the case, that is not as bad as I thought.

However, one thing that gives me a pause is how the group spearheading this effort, the Howard County Tennis Patrons, was originally reported to have $500,000 in equity to put into the $25 million project. Now all of the sudden they have $8 million to put into the project. How does $7.5 million show up out of the blue in less than 2 months, especially in this economic climate? That is very suspicious.

Tollick said the complex would cost about $25 million to build. He said $8 million of that will be raised by HCTP, the remaining $17 million financed through other means, such as private partners.

Enright said that the county is unlikely to take part in funding the project.

"This project was approved based on no county funding being required to complete the tennis facility," he said.

While $25 million seems like a steep price considering the current economic turmoil, Tollick said the fiscal upside of the project outweighs the negatives.

"We think this holds great economic potential," he said. "We have already talked with the USTA about bringing tournaments here, and we'd like to even bring in the (Women's Tennis Association)."

Both Arthur and Enright noted the potential boon for local restaurants, hotels and businesses if such tournaments -- especially WTA events -- could be brought to Elkridge.

Let's hope the county does not have to put in any money. I'd be totally jazzed about this facility if the county was not involved at any level. But something just does not add up with this, and if anyone is being played for a sucker, it will be the county.


jim adams said...

There is no sport I love playing more than tennis.

There is no sport facility I would want more in Howard Co.

The only thing I want more is for the county to stay totally out the tennis business. This should be completely private.

I would have said this in the best of times.

I feel that a government supported horse park, and I love riding, swimming pools for our schools, and I love swimming, and at this time tennis courts, my favorite sport, show just how poor our business judgement is, and how great our arrogance could be.

PZGURU said...

Not that I'm the most "optimistic" person around, but now could be the best time to build the facility. Contractors are desperate for work and as such the price tag to build it is probably as affordable as it would ever be.

As a tennis enthusiast, I'd be all for contributing to the funds, although I don't know if it's open to carpetbaggers from Carroll County.

billz said...

I'm in line with Jim Adams. I love tennis but this facility sounds too good to be true. I've played tennis for years in the county and never heard of the Howard County Tennis Patrons. If they can pony up the money, that's fantastic. But I'm a little suspicious that there's more to the story. I don't think the money should come from public coffers, even if it would be "stimulative."

If it does come to be built with private financing, I'd be delighted and happy to support it. I'd even be happy to support the Howard County Tennis Patrons if I knew who they were.

FreeMarket said...

PZG- I agree that now is a good time to build it as far as getting a low price for the construction. But I line up with the other two commentors who do not want to see any government involvement. Honestly, I even have a problem with HoCo leasing land. I don’t wish to pay taxes so that my government can fund ventures into real estate investing with my money.

If this tennis park can be built with private funds, I don’t understand why they just don’t build the thing rather than playing grab ass with the Department of Rec and Parks and elected officials.

PZGURU said...

Oh, I completely agree that public funds (government $$$) should NOT be used.

I have firmly believed, all my life, that these types of ventures that are desired by a small percentage of the public should not be publicly funded.