More details have been published of the plans to re-develop Maryland’s main horse racing venues. These were revealed when the bill was introduced to the state’s law-makers. It is sponsored by Senator Guy Guzzone, who is the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
What Does the Proposal Cover?
The idea is to authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to finance rebuilding plans by floating bonds. These would be 30-year bonds aimed at raising $350 million in funds. Out of that total, $180 million would be set aside to improve Pimlico Race course.
This racetrack would get a new grandstand and a spring meeting that includes the Preakness Stakes. 2019 was the 144th time that this race has been run. You can check Twinspires.com to see the Preakness winners, which include War of Will, Justify. And Cloud Computing.
$155 million would be used for the improvements that are needed at Laurel Park. These would include the building of a new grandstand, together with stables and housing for employees. This development work would convert it into a year-round training center for thoroughbred racehorses in Maryland.
A further $2.4 million per year would be destined to the Park Heights Renaissance. This money is to be used to improve the neighborhood around Pimlico. In addition, the Stronach Group who own Maryland Jockey Club would donate their land at Pimlico to the City of Baltimore and would get it leased back to them for the spring racing season each year.
The Bowie Training Center would be closed under this proposal. The land would be passed to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It would then be used for recreational purposes, with Bowie State University getting use of part of it.
The Maryland Racing Commission would also be required to set up an Equine Health, Safety and Welfare Advisory Committee. This group would have the remit to investigate all of the welfare issues that are involved in horse racing and training.
What Happens Next?
This proposal is similar to the agreement that was reached among all of the interested parties in October last year. However, there are some changes that have been made in the mean-time. The main alteration is that it would be lottery funds rather than the state’s casino fund that contributed $17 million each year.
It has also been reported that House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones is going to introduce a similar bill this week. It isn’t yet known what the differences between the two bills will be. Earlier reports had suggested that Laurel Park would be redeveloped first of all, with the work at Pimlico to be completed by 2024.
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has issued a statement through his office on this subject. It said that he joined with the other parties working on this agreement to “praise Maryland’s legislative leaders” and that the crucial issue here is that this work will help Pimlico to maintain the right to run the Preakness Stakes in the future.
The statement also pointed out that the plan “enhances year-round sustainable racing at Laurel Park”. It went on to mention the fact that modern facilities and community redevelopment efforts will play their part in improving the racecourse and its surrounding area.
The press released mentions that the racing industry in Maryland currently “produces in excess of $1 billion to the economy”. It also provides tens of thousands of jobs in the state and is a vital component in the business plans for many local businesses.
Young’s press release ended by calling this a “once-in-a lifetime opportunity” to keep the Preakness race in Baltimore City and make Maryland the country’s most important center for thoroughbred racing. He urged the General Assembly to give their support to the proposed plan” when the time comes to vote on it.