Maryland Group Selects Site for Horse Park Feasibility Study

The Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) announced today (Oct. 10) that the Naval Academy Dairy Farm located in Gambrills, Md. has been selected for the feasibility study for the Maryland Horse Park. The search for the site began in May, when all Maryland counties and municipalities were invited to propose sites for the park. Six site nominations were received, and were short-listed to two sites in August.

"The two short listed sites are both great properties, which meet our criteria and offer unique features for a Maryland Horse Park. This made the final selection difficult." said Alison L. Asti, executive director of the MSA. The Navy Dairy Farm site was recommended unanimously by the selection committee consisting of Asti, Gary A. McGuigan, project executive for the MSA, Dennis M. Castleman, assistant secretary for the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), Sue Kenney, DBED project manager, James B. Steele, chairman of the Horse Industry Board, Charles C. Fenwick, Jr., and Gregory Gingery, and was approved by the Maryland Stadium Authority Board today.

Castleman said, "It is anticipated that the Horse Park will attract large national and international equestrian events, and will be a significant tourist destination." The park will be modeled after the Kentucky Horse Park, but will be tailored to take into account the unique aspects of the Navy Dairy Farm site and the amenities in the surrounding area.

Rob Burk, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, said, "The Horse Park will also promote agricultural business and encourage the preservation of open space for agricultural use."

The Maryland Stadium Authority has engaged a design partnership firm of Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, Inc./Gh2 Gralla Architects, LLC to prepare a conceptual design and analyze infrastructure needs, and engaged KPMG to prepare an economic impact analysis. "The Maryland Stadium Authority looks forward to working with RCG and Gralla Architects, a nationally recognized equestrian architect, to evaluate the feasibility and cost of the project. If the studies demonstrate that the project is feasible, the Authority hopes to introduce authorizing legislation to finance the project during the 2006 session of the Maryland General Assembly." said McGuigan. The architects have discussed the possibility of a working farm museum, which will incorporate the Naval heritage of the property, to complement the Horse Park.

The Navy Dairy Farm, located within minutes of major highways, contains more than 800 acres of gently rolling hills and is in the center of the largest horse population in Maryland. Its proximity to almost 9,000 hotel rooms, restaurants and other tourist attractions will increase its potential for economic impact to the state and areas surrounding the Horse Park. According to a recent Deloitte study, the Maryland horse industry produces a total economic impact of $1.6 billion, approximately half of which is generated by showing, recreation and other non-racing activities. The Kentucky Horse Park has reported that it generates $163 million in annual spending and $18 million per year in state and local tax revenues.

Special Assistant to the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy Joe Rubino has indicated that the Navy would "be happy to work with the Maryland delegation and local elected officials on potential long term operation of the Dairy Farm property."

Asti said that the feasibility study will provide the Navy with the detailed information it needs to determine if the proposed use is compatible with its desire to retain the property as rural and agricultural in nature while meeting the economic needs of the Navy, and will provide the county and state with a detailed economic impact analysis. "I am pleased that we have finally selected the site to be studied; now the real work can begin," she said.

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