June 9, 2010

Board to act on racing venue, clipper ship and Ravens lottery tickets

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Andy Rosen
Andy@MarylandReporter.com

The state is poised to chip in its share for the Baltimore roadway improvement needed to make way for the city’s recently-announced Indy Racing League Event.

The Board of Public Works will take up a proposal Wednesday to fix the access road at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so the park can host pit stops as high-speed racers make their way through the city.

It’s a relatively cheap project, at about $28,000. The state will pay for pre-construction services on the road, said Maryland Stadium Authority Project Manager Eric Johnson. That’s the only thing the state has to fund directly, he said.

The rest of the money for road improvements for the race will come from Baltimore City, which is using nearly $8 million in state and federal transportation cash, and Baltimore Racing Development LLC.

The BPW has a lengthy agenda for Wednesday.

The three-member state spending panel is considering a measure that would transfer ownership of the Pride of Baltimore II, the promotional clipper ship, from the Maryland Port Administration to the private nonprofit that manages it.

The clipper replica has a complicated history of ownership, and if the board approves the $1 sale, the Pride of Baltimore Inc. would take ownership of the vessel for the second time. The organization was formed to manage the original Pride of Baltimore, which was lost in a deadly wreck in 1980. The nonprofit originally owned the privately-financed ship when it was launched in 1988, but later transferred ownership to the MPA. The deal to give it back was announced in April.

The BPW is made up of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.

Also on the agenda for this week is a renewal of the deal that allows the Maryland State Lottery to sell scratch tickets marketed with the logo of the Baltimore Ravens. The state made the deal last year, soon after the National Football League allowed the cross promotions.

Under the proposal before the BPW, the state would spend about $730,000 to license tickets with a retail value of close to $17 million. The money also pays for prizes such as season tickets and autographed team gear.

The spending panel will also be asked to approve the use of $125 million in borrowed money to pay for state projects to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The money was originally supposed to come out of a special fund that was put aside for cleanup, but O’Malley used it as part of his plan to plug a more than $1 billion budget hole this year, and elected to use capital funding instead.