Letter to the Editor

Puzzling sports complex

(printed 8/27/2021)

Editor,

What is puzzling to me is why are a majority of the Worcester County commissioners pursuing the construction of an outdoor sports field complex? 

Also, why is it that only a few local elected officials have been involved in the discussions?

A final report was issued in August of 2017, entitled Economic Analysis for a Proposed New Outdoor Sports Field Complex in Worcester County, Maryland. 

That report raised certain concerns about the feasibility of such a project.

First off, a memo, dated 8/30/17, by the then assistant chief administrative officer for the county, that accompanied the Economic Analysis being presented to the County Commissioners stated, in part:

“Since their August 1st meeting, staff has reviewed the economic analysis and determined that while the report provides good baseline data, we believe that the projected economic impact is overly optimistic.”

The 2017 study reflected that some promoters or producers involved in putting on sports tournaments indicated concerns about the potential of oversaturation of these facilities in the region. 

I personally attended two Little League baseball tournaments this past spring. One was held at the Henry Parker complex in Salisbury, and the other was at the sports facility east of Georgetown, Delaware. In both cases, it appeared that only half of the fields were being used.

The study also indicated that there were potential plans for additional fields to be privately built in Worcester and Wicomico counties. It also mentioned the sports complex in Frederica, Delaware.

The 2017 study further indicated that even in a stabilized year of operation which could take three to five years, a government-operated facility would require a 25 percent annual operating subsidy. This is over and above the cost of land acquisition and construction costs. 

The report further recommended an unspecified annual payment into a reserve fund to protect the County’s investment for future capital repairs or improvements.

The study also suggested that such a complex would create between 360 to 440 new jobs in the county. That appears to be overly optimistic, as well.

In short, the county commissioners decided not to pursue a sports complex in 2017. That was a wise decision then, but why are they pursuing it now?

Thank goodness, we have two county commissioners who are taking a much more cautious approach to a sports complex. 

Both Commissioner Chip Bertino and Commissioner Jim Bunting have stated that they do not want taxpayer money being spent on such a facility. Both gentlemen have expressed a concern about how the whole concept is being handled.

I encourage all Worcester County residents to reach out to your respective commissioner to express any concern that you may have about the sports complex and how it is being handled.

Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.

Ocean City

 

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