Baltimore Mayor, Stronach Group Knock Heads Over Future Racetrack Plans

by | 02.20.2019 | 11:14am
Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park, 2017 (MJC Photo)

The mayor of Baltimore isn't going down without a fight in the effort to save Pimlico Race Course.

In a letter to Maryland's governor and state legislative leaders, Catherine Pugh takes aim at a Stronach Group plan to create one “super track” at Laurel Park and an equine training and health center at Bowie instead of rebuilding Pimlico. The plan also calls for the Preakness to move to Laurel Park eventually.

“Certainly, before throwing away the racing tradition of the Preakness Stakes, the annual 'Super Bowl' of Baltimore city, and a generator of significant revenue for Maryland, [The Stronach Group] should be required to demonstrate that they have the bandwidth to create their recently announced 'super track,'” Pugh wrote. “Their company is in disarray, with father, daughter and now granddaughter suing one another in multiple lawsuits.”

Pugh's letter came in response to a Stronach Group letter from COO Tim Ritvo that outlines the company's thinking in pushing for the renovation of Laurel and the investment at Bowie. For one thing, Ritvo said the total project cost would be $120 million, compared to the more than $400 million estimate of rebuilding Pimlico, and additional state and local funding would not be necessary.

“First, the Pimlico facility has reached the end of its useful life as a major event venue,” wrote Ritvo. “Second, the cost associated with a brand-new racing facility is extraordinary — at least $424 million for the racing related structures alone. To date, we are not aware of any proposal to publicly fund an investment of this magnitude for two days of racing that offer no clear benefit for the remaining 363 days.”

Ritvo tells the Baltimore Sun the Stronach Group prefers moving the Preakness to Laurel but remains open to a taxpayer-funded rebuild of Pimlico.

“The Preakness is not just a Baltimore event,” Ritvo said. “It's a Maryland event. We envision it one day in Laurel.”

Read more at the Baltimore Sun

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