Governor Hogan named Thomas E. Kelso of Baltimore to be the next Chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, effective upon his Senate confirmation. I congratulate Mr. Kelso on his selection. This change is fully expected with a new administration, and I look forward to assisting him in a successful transition and supporting him as a member of the board.
It was an honor to serve Governor O’Malley for seven years, and I’d like to reflect on what the board, the staff and I accomplished during that time together.
When I assumed the Chairmanship of MSA in 2008, my foremost objective was to develop constructive partnerships -- with the Governor’s office; the General Assembly; the Orioles, Ravens and other tenants. It is my belief that the success of any organization depends on strong professional relationships with its business partners.
This is particularly true for the Maryland Stadium Authority, which represents the State of Maryland as the owner of the Camden Yards Sports Complex and landlord of the Orioles and Ravens, anchor tenants of the complex. If not for the teams, and the desire for them to remain in Baltimore and the State of Maryland, there would be no MSA.
While the welfare of the teams is of great importance to MSA, the agency has a fiduciary responsibility to the people of Maryland as owners of the real estate.
The selection of Michael Frenz as Executive Director of MSA in 2008 allowed us to strengthen those relationships and improve the overall performance of MSA. Mike’s strong leadership made my job as Chairman much easier. He brought a professional, businesslike approach to the operations of MSA and its partners and has allowed us to make significant improvements in safety and security, financial and property management, greater use of the facilities, and study/project management.
With this leadership in place, we were able to focus upon the most important responsibility in operating any large public facility.
Ensuring Safety and Security was – and continues to be -- our number one priority.
An extensive evaluation with a nationally recognized security firm provided us with a blueprint for infrastructure upgrades, enhanced surveillance, communications and training. Along with our partners, we work with federal, state, local, and private entities to protect those who work and visit here.
Between 2011 and 2014, MSA spent $3.5 million in security upgrades that include hardening the security perimeter around the complex with 250 additional concrete protective bollards, upgrading the access control system to an enterprise-level solution, and modernizing the security operations centers at both stadiums with upgrades to the video surveillance network to support emerging camera technologies and intelligent video analytics, as well as a redesign of the centers for improved communications and security operations.
Management of the complex’s real estate assets is vitally important to their value as revenue-generating State assets. We have achieved a 100% occupancy rate in the Warehouse, which we operate as Class A commercial office real estate to the tune of $4.4 million in FY2014.
In 2011, we conducted an internal operations audit and instituted systems to limit costs and utility consumption. We now function more efficiently and effectively. By reducing expenditures and increasing revenues, we have been able to remit $7.3 million to the state in rent payments since 2008.
Mike’s leadership set the tone which enabled us to address deferred maintenance issues and enhance our facilities In 2010 we implemented a plan to invest $35 million in Oriole Park and the Warehouse. This included redoing concrete surfaces in the Oriole Park seating bowl, replacing all of the original escalators in the ballpark and replacing the antiquated Warehouse fire alarm system to improve safety.
MSA also worked with the Orioles to implement several fan-friendly improvements to Oriole Park. These included renovating the picnic area and installing statues of Oriole Hall of Famers, lowering the wall in Flag Court and the extremely popular center field rooftop bar and seating.
These changes helped return Oriole Park at the top of Major League facilities by 2014. They also coincided with the Orioles returning to a winning tradition, including the American League East Division title in 2014.
During 2011, MSA partnered with the Ravens to install new video boards and build a new control room at M&T Bank Stadium. MSA has also worked with the Ravens to install a Distributed Antenna System for cellular phone usage and upgrade both upper and lower concourse areas and concession stands.
In 2013, through the combined efforts of MSA and the Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium became the first NFL facility to achieve Gold LEED certification, a premier recognition of best practices in green building and sustainability. MSA has significantly reduced energy and water usage and has increased the amount of waste recycled.
These changes enhanced the fan experience and increased the value of M&T Bank Stadium as a sports and entertainment venue. As with the Orioles, these stadium improvements were accompanied by considerable on-field success. The Ravens made the play-offs in 6 of the last 7 years and were Super Bowl Champions for the 2012 season.
Increased, Diverse Stadium Events This partnership allowed us to pursue a record number of highly sought-after stadium and complex events. Among these were sellout NCAA football games (including Army-Navy,) international soccer matches, and major concerts. Hosting these additional sports and entertainment activities allow more Marylanders and visitors to enjoy our facilities, while providing significant economic impact to the region.
Financial Management We have also strategically managed our debt portfolio by refinancing some $128 million in outstanding bonds to decrease the net present value of debt service by $7.52 million and reducing risk by converting floating rates to fixed rates. In August 2011, we terminated an interest rate SWAP relating to existing debt and refinanced the debt from floating to fixed, a series of transactions that resulted in our eliminating five types of risk. We have carefully controlled our administrative expenses and have judiciously added employees, resulting in our making $7.3 million in discretionary dividend payments in 4 of 7 years from 2008 to 2014. This figure represents 60% of all dividends paid in the 29-year history of MSA.
Capital Projects We’ve continued to work with jurisdictions around the state on construction management and project studies. With respect to feasibility studies, our objective analyses of likely costs and investment return have helped officials make better informed decisions.
Our construction management of projects such as the $130 million Coppin State Physical Education Complex in 2009 solidified our reputation for delivering projects on-time and on-budget. In December 2014 we completed a $14 million, 1200-seat performing arts center within the Ocean City Convention Center after an $8.9 million expansion in 2012. These projects will help Ocean City maintain and improve its competitiveness in the market for conventions and meetings.
In recent years, we have assisted local governments in every region of the state.
It is trust and confidence in our ability that prompted the Maryland General Assembly to tap MSA to oversee the $1.1 billion Baltimore City Schools construction program in 2013. It is a major task we did not seek, but a responsibility we accepted.
This program, to oversee the financing and contracting of school renovations and replacements using $60 million in debt service funds from City, State and the School system, is the largest and most complex undertaking in which MSA has been involved. I am happy to report that we remain on track to complete the program in 2020 per our original schedule.
During our legislative budget hearings last session, Chairman Bohanan described MSA as one of the success stories of State government. I am proud of the work achieved by our staff and my fellow directors over the past seven years. I feel we have left MSA in better shape, financially and operationally, than when we began our terms.
It has been a pleasure and honor being at the helm of such a fine organization.