ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s proposal to put slots at racetracks could provide millions in revenue for the state, but it might cost more than $150 million to build those facilities, according to the Maryland Stadium Authority.
That price tag, for a 210,000-square-foot prototype slots venue that would house 3,500 video lottery terminals, does not include the cost of land, union labor, additional amenities — or the slot machines themselves.
The estimate does include costs for basic wiring, fixtures, parking facilities and $7 million in site work, according to testimony by stadium officials Wednesday to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
In testimony before the same committee last week, authority officials had touted their experience with other large, fast-track projects, like the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center, and offered to construct slots facilities for the state.
The authority has also touted its high bond ratings as an opportunity to save money when borrowing the needed construction funds.
But Wednesday’s brief presentation appeared to raise more questions than answers with the committee.
Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard, asked Stadium Authority Executive Director Richard Slosson to describe the furnishings of the building. Slosson said the interior would resemble a gambling establishment in Atlantic City.
Slosson also said the authority would need at least 12 months to construct the facilities once the permits were issued.
The governor’s slots spokesman, Paul Schurick, was not immediately available to comment Wednesday on Slosson’s estimates.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and the Ways and Means Committee have all expressed support for state-constructed slots venues.
Ehrlich’s latest slots bill calls for more than 15,000 slot machines at four racetracks and two undetermined locations along the Interstate 95 corridor between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The governor’s initial slots proposal narrowly cleared the Senate last session, but died in the House.
The Stadium Authority’s offer is not the only one on the table, however.
Magna Entertainment and the Maryland Jockey Club said they could build slots venues — land, machines, labor and seven restaurants included — for the minimum cost presented by the Stadium Authority.
“The Maryland Jockey Club can do it because we have the land already,” said Jockey Club attorney Alan Rifkin.
The club’s cost estimate also included an additional 75,000 square feet over the plans proposed by the Maryland Stadium Authority.
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