Baltimore City Conference Center Expansion/Arena/Hotel
Howard County Releases Feasibility Study for Troy Park Tennis and Sports Center
April 13, 2012
Public Information Director
Maryland Stadium Authority
The Maryland Stadium Authority today released the market and economic study performed at the request of Howard County, Maryland on the feasibility of a major tennis facility and sports center for Troy Park, a county-owned site at the intersection of I-95 and Route 100.
The concept of developing a world class tennis facility was proposed by the Howard County Tennis Patrons, Inc., a nonprofit corporation formed in 2004 to promote the growth of tennis in Howard County. Their mission includes creating a premier tennis facility for children and adults, and hosting United States Tennis Association events that would create economic and fiscal benefits to the County by attracting out-of-town participants and spectators.
The proposed program, for which the advocacy group has already completed preliminary planning, includes 30 professional quality tennis courts (12 indoor and 18 outdoor), an 8,000-seat multi-use stadium, a community plaza and other associated amenities such as a pro shop. Originally envisioned as a public-private undertaking, the initial effort to secure funding from the private sector has fallen short, possibly due to recent economic conditions.
County Executive Ken Ulman asked the Stadium Authority to evaluate the economic and fiscal benefits of the plan and comment on the potential use of public funds in financing this venue.
The study highlighted that Howard County is an affluent jurisdiction where quality of life amenities and educational/enrichment activities are appreciated. “MONEY” magazine cited Howard County as one of “America’s Best Places to Live,” and “Forbes” listed Howard County as one of the “Best Places to Raise a Family.” Howard County and its leadership takes great pride in the recreational facilities available to its citizens, most recently demonstrated in the opening of Robinson Nature Center and the first phase of the 300 acre Blandair Park in Columbia.
Howard County is well-positioned geographically for national and regional events. The Troy Park site is favorably located with interstate access and proximity to BWI-Marshall airport.
The market study indicates there are relatively few top-tier events which require a facility of this magnitude. While there is market demand from diverse users, it is not sufficient to offset the costs of on-going operations and debt service. Another concern highlighted by the study is the lack of nearby hotels in Howard County, which would likely divert potential tax revenue from events to Baltimore and/or Anne Arundel Counties.
Despite drawbacks to the scale of the project originally envisioned, the concept has merit as a quality of life resource for Howard County and the greater region. If the County decides to move forward with the project, the program elements should be redefined, and the cost reduced.
The study recommends several steps when evaluating a project of this scale, including identifying an operating strategy to maximize resources and achieve cost savings. The effort to secure private/public/education sector partners should continue on a parallel track.
“We greatly appreciate the work done by the Maryland Stadium Authority and its consultants,” stated Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “This study provides us with the insights we need in considering our options for this project. It allows us to make realistic choices about the tennis park features, the kind of partnerships we need, and the steps we need to take as we move forward.”
Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Morton III added his thoughts. “MSA is pleased to provide our expertise on project development to Howard County,” he said. “The results of this study give the County Executive what he needs to make an informed decision about the scale of the tennis park project.”