Efforts to create a vibrant hub in central Prince George’s County advanced on Monday when a House panel approved $400 million for an area that county leaders refer to as the Blue Line Corridor.
The funds were added by the Appropriations Committee to a measure, House Bill 897, that authorizes $200 million for renovations at minor league baseball stadiums around the state.
The bill is a companion to House Bill 896, which would provide $1.2 billion to upgrade Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. The Appropriations Committee voted on Monday to send that measure to the House floor as well.
The Prince George’s funds are a top priority for County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D). If they survive the legislative process intact, they could be used to support a convention center and/or a Merriweather Post-style amphitheater in the general vicinity of FedEx Field, home of the Washington Commanders.
County officials say the funds could also support construction of a sports fieldhouse where residents could play basketball and volleyball, a library, a culture center, a market hall and/or a civic plaza. The bill, as drafted, would exclude the use of funds on a professional football stadium.
County and state officials stressed on Monday that the new facilities would move forward whether the Washington Commanders decide to build a new stadium in the county or not.
The team is in discussions with state and local officials in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia about a new stadium. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) declared last month that Maryland would like to keep the team but will not enter a “bidding war” to do so. Virginia officials were expected to put together an incentive package, but Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and the state’s legislature have not yet to reach agreement on one.
Prince George’s leaders cheered Monday’s vote.
“Our community hasn’t received much investment over the years, so this is huge. Whether the stadium stays or not,” said Del. Nick Charles (D-Prince George), chair of the county delegation. “From Largo to Capitol Heights, having this type of investment that we’ve never had in that part of Prince George’s County, that is huge.”
A spokesman for Hogan said he is “a strong supporter of the county executive’s economic development priorities.”
“As with any legislation, he will review whatever the General Assembly sends to his desk,” spokesman Michael Ricci added.
Another amendment, to the state’s capital budget bill, approved on Monday would pre-authorize $200 million that can be used if the U.S. General Services Administration decides to build a new headquarters for the FBI in Greenbelt or New Carrollton.
Montgomery transportation funds approved
Montgomery County also scored a win in the Appropriations Committee on Monday.
The panel voted to approve $27 million a year to finance a new or future bus rapid transit project. The county launched a BRT line in the Route 29 corridor in 2020, but officials are eyeing new service along two other frequently-congested thoroughfares, Rockville Pike (MD 355) and Veirs Mill Road (MD 586).
“As the state’s leader in Bus Rapid Transit, we are grateful for the long-term investment in mass transit in Montgomery County and around the state,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D). “Bus Rapid Transit is an equity-driven means of transportation that has been proven to be cost-effective, and with this investment, Montgomery County will be able to expand mass transit options providing more access and mobility to our residents.”