Support waning for Hall of Fame in Annapolis

Published on January 24th, 2018

by Chase Cook, Capital Gazette
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has removed $1.25 million in capital funding for the National Sailing Hall of Fame as the organization moves closer to solidifying a deal in Rhode Island and moving out of Annapolis.

The money was de-authorized in Hogan’s fiscal 2019 budget in part because of failure to meet fundraising goals. The summary of the decision lists the project “on hold.” The Hogan administration also has not given the organization another $2 million, originally planned as a follow up to the $1.25 million grant.

“The National Sailing of Fame has consistently failed to meet their obligations under the Memorandum of Understanding with the state,” said Shareese N. Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman.

National Sailing Hall of Fame president Gary Jobson has not responded to a request for comment. Board member Dick Franyo declined to comment and deferred to Jobson.

The National Sailing Hall of Fame has made its home in Annapolis since its creation in 2005. It operates out of a building leased from the state on City Dock. The organization has been in talks for years to redevelopment that area, transforming the area into an operations center and museum.

In February 2017, the state extended the lease on the property for three years, but under the stipulation the Hall of Fame file an annual update on a $9.5 million requirement for construction.

About a week ago Jobson told The Capital that the organization had $2 million in the bank along with the state’s $1.25 million and an anonymous donor’s $1 million. With the state taking back the $1.25 million, the organization is well short of its goal.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley has proposed a public-private partnership to build a hotel, underground parking garage and home for the Hall of Fame at City Dock. But Franyo last week described that plan as coming too late.

Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis, was not a fan of the state’s decision in 2016 to give the National Sailing Hall of Fame the $1.25 million. He put forth an amendment to require matching funds, but that amendment was rejected. Despite Republican and Democratic support, McMillan’s amendment was defeated 55 to 77.

McMillan said he didn’t support the Hall of Fame getting a free hand out from the state.

It isn’t about opposing the Hall of Fame, but other organizations like The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center find matching funds, why can’t the sailing organization, he said.

As for the possible move to Newport: “There is a sucker born every minute,” McMillan said.

Throughout all of this, the National Sailing Hall of Fame has been in talks with Newport city officials about a move to Rhode Island. The Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors met Jan. 8 with Newport officials to discuss “facts and figures.”

Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop offered the Newport Armory as a potential new location. Jobson has confirmed there are negotiations to purchase that property but the Hall of Fame’s board won’t vote on a proposal until it’s approved by the Newport City Council. The council is slated to meet Wednesday, but such a deal is not on that meeting’s agenda.

Winthrop has told The Capital he hopes the Newport City Council approves a sale in February.

The Hall of Fame rejected a third proposal from US Sailing to create a virtual Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame’s board voted 21-3 at its January meeting with four of the board’s 28 members absent.

Source: Capital Gazette


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