Hounds CEO: It’s the government’s fault we don’t have a stadium yet

To the surprise of cynics nowhere, the CEO of the Loudoun Hounds non-existent extremely minor league baseball “team” now says that if only he had help from the government, Loudoun would have its dream-come-true of its very own baseball team.

In a lengthy interview in Leesburg Today, Hounds CEO Bob Farren — in admitting for the first time that  “construction” of the stadium has indeed gone nowhere, despite repeated false assurances from him to the contrary  — reveals that it’s the lack of government-issued bonds that’s been the real problem: “If we had municipal support from the county or the state, we would be playing ball right now,” he says.

Just to review, for a mere $70,000 in campaign contributions to our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, the Hounds investors have already received:

• Chairman Scott York’s enthusiastic help in letting the developer of the original stadium site off of his promised $80 million proffered road improvements, and having it provided by state-subsidized bonds instead (“Huge win for Loudoun County,” York gushed at the time)

• A fast-track approval of the a whole package of zoning exemptions and changes for the new stadium site, ignoring local residents’ well-founded concerns about traffic and noise

• Lots of gushing enthusiasm from Supervisors Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), and others about how “excited” they are that “baseball” is coming to Loudoun

Our dedicated public servants, in justifying the fast-track approval last year, kept obediently repeating Farren’s assertions that it was absolutely necessary to rush this through so that the stadium would be ready for opening day 2014.

In his interview this week, Farren showed his trademark humility and manful sense of responsibility by explaining that, alas, it’s turned out to be a tad difficult to get private financing after all, even though he’s been telling us for a decade how baseball is just about to be coming to Loudoun. “It is not uncommon for these things to take longer than expected,” Farren said, explaining why it is absolutely not his fault in any way whatsoever. “There are not a lot of financial institutions that want to underwrite construction of a ballpark.”

Now he tells us!

Of course, the little difficulty Farren and the Hounds are encountering in convincing a financial institution to give them a few tens of million dollars or so could just possibly conceivably have something or other remotely tangentially to do with the fact, also revealed by Leesburg Today, that the Hounds were sued by a Maryland financial institution for defaulting on a $3.2 million loan they received last year and have had a judgment entered against them for the sum. (Farren brushed that aside as just part of “a legal protocol.”)

The Hounds are thus now seeking a bailout in the form of state-tax-exempt bonds (an implicit subsidy, no matter how you try to disguise it). The catch is that such government-issued private activity bonds (termed “taxable” because the interest they earn is subject to Federal taxes, though exempt from state taxes — and thus they still carry a lower interest rate thanks to you and me the  Virginia taxpayers who have to make up for the loss of tax revenues) are not within the legal authority of Loudoun’s Economic Development Authority to issue. “I am at a screeching halt because of this ordinance,” Farren said.

Yes, those damned bureaucratic big government pettifogging regulations that prevent an honest hardworking businessman from getting a public handout!

So Scott York is now proposing to change that pesky law to help the Hounds and Loudoun achieve its dream of baseball.

Thank goodness we have such dedicated public servants who keep bravely putting the interests of The People ahead of personal gain.


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