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Officials Excited at Stadium Groundbreaking
St Charles/Waldorf, Charles County - 7/27/2007
By Staff Writer Anna Dailey
TWO WHITE TENTS staked into drought-damaged grass were all that stood between several hundred spectators and the 101°F afternoon sun. Nonetheless, the crowd was fairly excited to witness Thursday's ground breaking ceremony which officially began work on Southern Maryland’s new Regency Furniture Stadium and Entertainment Complex.
Governor Martin O’Malley (D), county officials and business leaders on the dais were even more excited than the average spectator.
For Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (D – district 4), the day was particularly satisfying. It was the beginning of the end of many years of planning and work to bring a professional sports team and a stadium to the county. During the presentations before the ceremony, he mentioned his thanks for the sustaining comments county residents gave him along the way.
“Not a month has passed that a citizen hasn’t passed me on the street and said ‘What a wonderful idea it would be to bring a professional sports team to Southern Maryland and build a stadium for them’,” said Hodge.
County officials scheduled the ground breaking to coincide with the Governor’s visit to La Plata, the state’s honorary capital for the day. The state is a 1/3 partner in the construction costs for the stadium. During his remarks, Governor O’Malley gave a promise of support for Charles County’s issues.
“I’m going to do everything I can to help you. I promise you that, my friend,” O’Malley told Board of Commissioners President, F. Wayne Cooper (D – at large).
Maryland Assembly Delegate, Sally Y. Jameson (D - district 28) pledged her support, “I will be here at that first game next May. I’ll do everything possible to make sure this project stays on task.”
Calvert County Board of Commissioners Vice-President, Susan Shaw (R - district 2) told the assembly, “The people of Calvert County thank the people of Charles County for taking the lead on this.”
Maryland Baseball, LLC President, Peter Kirk spoke on behalf of former Major League Baseball player, Brooks Robinson, special assistant for Maryland Baseball. Kirk mentioned meeting Hodge a couple decades ago when Hodge attended an out-of-state league meeting to inquire about bringing professional baseball to Charles County.
Kirk promised spectators that in regard to the stadium project, “We will be good partners; and arm-in-arm, we will make this successful.” He also revealed a couple of promotional details. According to Kirk the average ticket price for a Southern Maryland Blue Crabs game will be $5. Children wearing their personal league’s team shirts will be admitted free of charge. And, the team owners plan to make free tickets available as prizes for student educational accomplishment within the tri-county school systems. These three announcements brought sincere applause from the many families in the crowd.
|Photos by Heather Bartlett for TheBayNet.com.|
|Governor Martin O'Malley|
Cooper recognized the contribution of Mr. Ed Kelley of St. Charles developer ACPT who donated the acreage upon which the stadium will sit, valued at $5 million. ACPT has committed themselves to upgrading Piney Church Road to handle increased quantities of traffic the stadium will generate in the area. No start of construction date has yet been announced.
Regency Furniture owner and local businessman, Abdul Ahad was commended by the Governor and Kirk for his participation in the project. Ahad purchased a ten year stadium naming rights contract from Maryland Baseball, LLC for the sum of $2.88 million.
According to Governor O’Malley, Regency Furniture Stadium will be Southern Maryland’s largest gathering place, anticipating about a quarter of a million visitors annually.
The construction is occurring on land which was once a gravel quarry. The Governor also explained that the construction is overseen by the Maryland Stadium Authority. Officials estimate that the construction phase of the project should net the County about $27 million.
After the remarks, the officials on the dais donned hard hats and fluorescent construction vests and participated in the synchronized shoveling of the first spadefulls of dirt. The Governor also participated in operating a major piece of digging equipment, for the entertainment of the crowd.
“It’s been a productive day, a very productive day!” Commissioner Cooper told The Bay Net.
Charles County Editor, Anna Dailey welcomes your comments on all Charles County issues.
Please leave feedback in the box below or contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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