- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

GAMBRILLS, Md. — A Naval Academy dairy farm has been selected as the site for a proposed horse park designed to attract national and international equestrian events, the Maryland Stadium Authority announced yesterday.

The proposal calls for a 5,000-seat arena, 1,000 stalls, eight to 10 show rings and other horse amenities.

The 800-plus acre dairy-farm site was one of two finalists, along with a site in Fair Hill in Cecil County near the Delaware and Pennsylvania borders.

The Anne Arundel County site, which was supported unanimously by the selection committee, is close to major highways, almost 9,000 hotel rooms, numerous restaurants and other tourist attractions, the stadium authority said.

Cecil County, in contrast, has 1,090 hotel rooms, and the surrounding area has less tourism infrastructure, said Alison L. Asti, executive director of the stadium authority.

The selection committee also was concerned that visitors would leave the state seeking hotel rooms, dining and other services if the Fair Hill site was selected, Miss Asti said.

“We felt the economic impact to the state would be much greater in central Maryland, and we didn’t want to lose the business to out-of-state hotels and restaurants,” Miss Asti said. “Since this is an economic-development initiative, it’s important to have those revenues stay in the state of Maryland.”

The site is also more centrally located in relation to the state’s horse industry.

“If you look at a map of all the horses in Maryland, the site in Anne Arundel County is smack in the center of the most-populated horse areas in the state,” Miss Asti said.

Organizers said they hope the horse park, to be modeled after one in Kentucky, will become a tourist destination and will attract large national and international equestrian events.

Rob Burk, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, said the park also will promote agriculture and encourage the preservation of open space.

Six sites were nominated for the horse park, and the selection committee narrowed the list to Annapolis and Fair Hill on Aug. 23.

The selection will be followed by a feasibility study of the winning site, with the results forwarded to the General Assembly. Lawmakers will have to authorize a bond bill before the park can be built.

Architects working on the proposed park also have considered a working farm museum at the site, which would incorporate the naval heritage of the property.

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