Terry Hasseltine is the executive director of the Maryland Sports Commission, vice president of the Maryland Stadium Authority and president of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland. In a video on PressBoxOnline.com, Hasseltine spoke with Stan “The Fan” Charles and Gary Stein about programs and events in the state affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a rundown of what Hasseltine had to say June 10.
When the pandemic began affecting Maryland in March, the state was set to enter what Hasseltine termed as “high tournament season” — April through July, with a focus on three-day weekend events. Because of that, Maryland lost about 140 youth and amateur sporting events, according to Hasseltine. He noted Memorial Day weekend would’ve been particularly busy with lacrosse tournaments across the state.
Hasseltine said the lost events would’ve generated more than $85 million in direct spending on Maryland’s economy.
As part of the state’s Stage 2 reopening in the spring, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan eased restrictions on outdoor youth and high school sports. Programs are to follow CDC guidelines, which range from practices that focus on individual skill development to limiting how often equipment is shared.
Hasseltine didn’t know when programs will be able to get back to normal. Other states have been permitting competition for weeks, meaning some events were moved away from Maryland to locations that would accommodate them.
“Were there some shifts? Yes,” Hasseltine said. “However, do I think they’re long-term shifts? I hope not. … Hopefully it’s a temporary move, and our job is to make sure that it is temporary and they get back here and put their anchor back on the soil of Maryland.”
2026 FIFA World Cup
Two years ago at the 68th FIFA Congress, United 2026 — the bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico — won the vote to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Hasseltine said representatives from cities hoping to host matches during the World Cup were set to meet at a conference earlier this year to discuss the next steps for that process, but that got postponed due to the pandemic.
“Now it’s a little bit of a behind-the-scenes arms race about how can you tout your destination, how can you make yourself relevant,” Hasseltine said.
Baltimore is one of 17 U.S. cities that could potentially host 2026 World Cup matches, with M&T Bank Stadium slated to be the venue if Baltimore is chosen. Baltimore’s bid is being led by the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Maryland Sports Commission and other organizations. Ten U.S. cities will host a total of 60 matches. The 2026 World Cup will feature 48 teams, up from the usual 32.
Even if Baltimore doesn’t land any matches, Hasseltine said the city could still be in play to host the World Cup Team Workshop. Delegations from all 48 countries would descend on Baltimore 6-12 months ahead of the World Cup for a 10-day event in order to plan the logistics of the massive tournament. Baltimore could also serve as a base camp for one of the teams in the World Cup.
“If we get the right assignment on a team and we get the [team workshop], there’s a big win there,” Hasseltine said. “That’s something that you don’t get every day, but the ultimate goal is to host some matches. Without a doubt, you don’t put yourself forward to not want to host matches. We’re looking forward to any of those possibilities.”
Maryland 5 Star At Fair Hill
The inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, a major international equestrian competition, was scheduled for this fall at Fair Hill International in Cecil County but was postponed until Oct. 14-17, 2021. A five-star Three-Day Eventing competition is a triathlon (dressage, cross country and show jumping) for horses and riders. It is the seventh five-star event in the world.
The Fair Hill Organizing Committee, which was put together by the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, will continue working on the event.
Hasseltine said the five-star event will draw more than 80,000 people to Fair Hill, though the pandemic forced adjustments due to some moving parts beyond fans congregating at Fair Hill. Hasseltine noted that those involved in the event — including the horses — would have required a quarantine period had the event gone on as scheduled.
“… At the end of the day it just made more sense [that] you only have one chance to make a first impression,” Hasseltine said. “The last thing you want to do is try to put on a world-class event where you have no fans and the athletes are going to have to be regulated to such a level that you don’t know whether they’re going to be able to make it through the three days just because of the unique challenges of what they have to go through.”
Maryland Cycling Classic
The inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic was scheduled for Sept. 6 as part of the 2020 UCI ProSeries, but it was postponed until 2021. The race will start in Baltimore County and finish in the city.
Hasseltine said the event, which is owned and operated by the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, was pushed back for several reasons. It’s an international event with riders flying in from all over the globe. About 100,000 spectators were expected, and there was no way to realistically enforce social distancing guidelines. Plus, the Tour de France was postponed until Aug. 29-Sept. 20, meaning many riders would be in France anyway.
“It just came to the point where all the protocols and procedures that are in place … and all the health things that you have to put in place like sanitation, washing your hands, wearing facemasks, the enforcement on that stuff would’ve been overwhelming,” Hasseltine said. “And I don’t know how we could’ve kept people away [from each other].”
Hasseltine added that a decision on the Baltimore Running Festival, scheduled for Oct. 17, will have to be made by mid-August.
Orioles’ Expiring Lease At Camden Yards
The Orioles’ 30-year lease at Camden Yards is set to expire after the 2021 season. The Baltimore Sun reported in June that the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority agreed to explore a new lease that would allow for more year-round use of Camden Yards.
Camden Yards hosted its first-ever stand-alone concert in July 2019 when Billy Joel performed in front of a sold-out ballpark. That concert took place in the middle of a long West Coast swing for the Orioles, which allowed time to convert Camden Yards into a concert venue and back to baseball. Hasseltine is pleased that door has now been opened.
“We know that we only have limited time availability during the baseball season because of the number of games they play, the transition between the field and everything like that,” Hasseltine said. “The fact that there’s a conversation now [that] we’re all receptive of having at the Stadium Authority along with the Orioles, it’s actually created a conversation on our complex that was probably missing to a degree probably just a few years ago.”
Stan “The Fan” Charles and Gary Stein’s weekly conversations with sports newsmakers are available at PressBoxOnline.com. Charles also catches up with former Orioles and others from the baseball world in a weekly conversation co-hosted by former Orioles pitcher Ross Grimsley.
Photo Credit: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire
Originally published July 8, 2020