ANNAPOLIS – Montgomery County Delegates may decide today whether Prince George’s officials can sell or lease the naming rights to two stadiums and an equestrian center.
Prince George’s lawmakers drafted the bill to bring extra money to the county’s troubled school system by giving the county executive the power to sell or lease naming rights of stadiums owned by the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission.
Because both Prince George’s and Montgomery County share the agency, Montgomery County delegates must approve the bill.
If passed, the county executive could sell or lease the naming rights of the Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, the Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie and USAIR Arena in Landover.
The bill is the brainchild of Delegate Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, who said the bill could bring in money for schools.
Since the General Assembly convened last month, education has topped the list of priorities for Prince George’s lawmakers. They want to repair dozens of schools and build 26 new ones in hopes of ending years of busing. They want to launch a technology project to bring schools even with other schools in Maryland. They want to attract and retain more qualified teachers.
And so, all session legislators have been fighting to get the one thing they say is key to improving their troubled school system – money.
Davis’ bill could funnel up to $1 million into the school system. “I expect full approval at the appropriate time,” Davis said. “I am confident that my Montgomery County colleagues will support (this bill).”
Since it was introduced weeks ago, the bill was quickly approved by Prince George’s County lawmakers. But the Montgomery County delegation was less enthusiastic when it was discussed at its meeting.
Delegate Michael Gordon, D-Montgomery, worried the county executive wouldn’t be able to stop bidders from giving the stadiums obscene or inappropriate names. Delegate Nancy Kopp, D-Montgomery, suggested that money made from selling the naming rights might be shared by both counties. The Montgomery County Planning Board opposed the legislation saying the money from selling naming rights should go to maintaining stadium property and funding programs.
The Montgomery County Bicounty Committee could vote on the issue or put it off for another week.
“It’s a little unusual to give someone other than the owner of the stadium naming authority,” said Kumar Barve, House chairman for the Montgomery County Delegation. “It’s unusual, but I’m not saying it won’t get passed. We’ve got an open mind about it.”
If passed by the bicounty committee, the bill would be presented to the entire Montgomery delegation for a vote.