MCPS expects club to pay $60,000 for stadium lights; club has refused
Blair's Booster Club has not made any payments on a $60,000 loan the MCPS Department of Facilities Management made in 1999 to pay for the Booster Club's half of the football stadium lights, according to director Dick Hawes.
Hawes said he has communicated with the Booster Club about the problem but that the club has not paid any money. "They signed a note, and we're still holding them to that," he said.
In the loan's promissory note, the Booster Club promises to make ten annual installments towards the $60,000 that the club and the Montgomery County Board of Education each paid to finance the stadium lights.
Booster Club President Herb Kaufman said the club is currently not capable of paying off the loan. "We just don't have that big of a treasury," he said.
He explained that the club had planned to install antennae on top of the lights and rent them to local companies. However, when he contacted the Montgomery County Department of Parks and Planning, he was told that Parks and Planning had already placed antennae on the light towers and that companies had lost interest in an antenna at Blair.
However, Butch Payton, the Parks and Planning project manager for the baseball and softball field lighting, said that as of May 7, the only antenna in the vicinity was located on a cell phone tower in the baseball field. He also said that even if there had been interest in antennae on the football stadium lights, the lights would not be able to physically support the weight of the antennae.
Furthermore, had the Booster Club intended to install its antenna, Payton said, it would have had to lease the land, as the football stadium lies on property owned by the State of Maryland. The cell tower in the baseball field is owned by Parks and Planning, which maintains the property.
According to Kaufman, the Booster Club makes money only from sporting events, which bring in less than $6,000 a year. This money goes toward providing sporting equipment for the school, not toward paying the Department of Facilities Management. "Given that our mode of income was basically denied, we decided that we had to take care of the athletic debts first. I was banking on earning revenue from the lights," he said.
However, Hawes said that the antenna were not meant to be the club's sole means of making money. "They were supposed to generate [enough] revenue from sporting events, just like every other school does," he said.
Kaufman maintained that the Booster Club will eventually pay back the loan but hopes that it can renegotiate the terms of the agreement. "We'll have to talk to Parks and Planning and figure out a reasonable payment schedule, or maybe Parks and Planning might even agree to share some of the revenue brought in by the antenna with the Booster Club," he said.
Kaufman believes the club should receive part of Parks and Planning's revenue because he believes the group lost its chance to generate money by installing antennae. "We should have had that opportunity, and we didn't," he said. "We should not have been denied that opportunity."
Kaufman has no definite plans to make the payments if Parks and Planning does not first give money to the Booster Club.
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