‘Tear It Down? Fix It Up?’ Opinions Vary on Pimlico

by | 05.19.2013 | 5:37pm

The Maryland Jockey Club has agreed to renovate both Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, but opinions differ widely on how the renovation funds should be spent.

Some, like trainer Doug O'Neill, are concerned to keep the original flavor and history of the track, while others think Pimlico should be razed.

“I've come to the Preakness for the last 15 years, and it's pretty much a dump,” said race fan John Green to the Baltimore Sun. “Why keep anything? You don't have a twin spires or something in the grandstand area that's nostalgic. It would be more cost efficient to level it and rebuild.”

Other fans are concerned that a renovation will cause prices to rise.

Officials say that details on the project won't be announced until later this year, and that for now, they're not willing to speculate on how drastic the facelift is likely to be.

Read more at The Baltimore Sun

  • Tear the grandstand down and turn it into a training center then they could sell/lease some of the land to the hospital they need for parking…Laurel Park is the future of Maryland racing and the location puts Pimlico to shame…Build a state of the art futuristic looking grandstand at Laurel as the old one wore out and ugly…Get busy Frank…

    • Michael

      Laurel Park is not the future of Maryland racing, I repeat Not the future of MD. racing. Pimlico should be refurbished.

    • we’re watching

      You’re crazy. Laurel is a small little track which could never handle the Preakness.
      It’s good for a small spring and fall meet, not the main thrust of the MD racing season.

  • Big Red

    How about letting North Korea use it for target practice?

    • DawnP


    • Red Rider

      Good idea, but they would probably miss and hit D.C. “by accident”. Better idea would be to declare it a national historic site. Then prevent public access in order to preserve its authentic state, its native “wildlife”, and its value to our nation’s culture.

      • Richard C

        Contact Dennis Rodman — he could make it happen!

      • Hit DC???…And get rid of all those crooks/thugs on the hill???…

    • Don Reed

      Too noble a fate.

  • nu-fan

    I have heard, at times, comments about other racetracks being a dump and “not what they used to be.” Yet, when I go, I don’t see the negatives. Sure, the tracks need periodic refurbishing and the stall areas, which fans do not see, might need some real work. But, our U.S. society tends to tear down structures much too quickly instead of preserving them. And, with that, it keeps tearing down the past and replacing it with new structures that are cheap and which will also face the same demolition much too quickly. Preserve what can be preserved and tear down only what is a hazard. One of my favorite college basketball gymnasiums is at USF. When I walk in, it’s small and cramped but I sense the era of Bill Russell and others. It has a feeling of history that cannot be felt at some of the new, more modern arenas. Hope that they haven’t changed anything there in recent years. I need to go back soon just to take a peek.

    • Its time has past…Eye sore in a real bad location…

    • Red Rider

      Bill Russell would refuse to run at Pimlico. Not because its cramped, but the rats would not let him get a shot off.

      • nu-fan

        Really? You know Bill Russell and his opinions about Pimlico? Doubt it. You represent so many in our society that discards and demolishes rather than renovates. There are some who may see this as a possibility to retain what is historical and improve it–while, at the same time, adhere to the idea of a “green environment”. In your world, we would build nothing but strip malls and wonder why our communities no longer have any identity. By the way, there was an odor at USF’s gym: It was the odor that seeped into the woodwork of many decades of fans cheering on their team with the likes of Bill Russell and Bill Cartwright. Some of the new arenas? Sure, they are spacious and with lots of amenities–but they are sterile. Horseracing’s days of glory are in the past; don’t destroy that aspect of it.

        • Don Reed

          NF: He responded rhetorically.

          • nu-fan

            Well, duh….. And, besides, basketball at Pimlico? If one is to use rhetoric, use it wisely rather than haphazardly. ·

          • Red Rider

            The response meets or exceeds the standard set by the original comments. I pick “duh” as your best.

          • nu-fan

            Big Rider: Rarely has anyone agreed with you on any comments that you have made. Your logic and reasoning is of a mind that usually dwells in the negatives. Get help. Get it soon.

          • Red Rider

            I also have witnessed your current and previous posts and find them consistently based on uniformed personal feelings rather than facts. Those feeling are “hurt” when challenged, resulting in returned insults. I am not the first to encounter this approach.

            It is a fact that I have personally visited and/or raced horses at tracks in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe; probably more than you have seen on TV. My assessment that Pimlico is an irreclaimable dump is based on personal observation and easily substantiated physical evidence. Nostalgia, warm fuzzies, and the USF arena have nothing to do with Pimlico’s sorry state and ignore the fact that no one, including Stronach, is going to spend the money needed to restore it to the level of past glory you have conjured up in your imagination.

            If you were as erudite as you believe, you would note that the majority of non-airy fairy comments on this blog do, in fact, support and find my position accurate and/or amusing.

            It must be uncomfortable for you to have gone through life as a contortionist, unable to see the light. It is possible to comprehend that you could eventually adjust to the surrounding dungeon-like darkness of your immediate environment, but how have you possibly managed to abide the limited diet and the constant smell without occasionally emerging for air?

        • Red Rider

          I know Bill as well as you, and know that a basketball arena at USF has nothing to do with Pimlico. I am sure that I know Pimlico better than you.

  • Kris

    I’ve never been to Pimlico, so speaking generally about racetrack grandstands I believe that unless a facility is historic (and well-loved) then it should be restored to its original glory, otherwise why not build a new facility?

  • KatraB

    Fix up and refurbish Pimlico and Laurel Park. These are two wonderful historic race tracks.
    New is not always better! These tracks need to be appreciated, cared for and respected!
    That is the right thing to do! ;) Honor the history of the horses and the tracks and DO NOT

    • nu-fan

      Katra: You’ve got class and a grounded set of values. I’m with you on this!

    • Roisin

      I agree ! Keep the history, improve through renovation !!

    • thevoiceoftruth69

      Serious question. Have you been there this year? I used to feel the same way until I was horrified at what I saw this year.

      • nu-fan

        But, can renovation bring it up to what you and others would expect? I don’t think anyone is saying that any structure (historic or otherwise) never be touched but, too often, we seem to just throw out, level down, and demolition. Perhaps, it can be renovated.

  • jttf

    they have had plenty of chances to fix it and never have. give laurel a chance to run the preakness. if they cant put on a good show give it to santa anita and let the west coast have some say in the triple crown. make sure there is at least 4 weeks in between races so we can see the best “fully recovered” 3 year olds. isnt that what a true championship series is all about ?

    • Maybe (that’s a great big maybe) they should add one (from 2 to 3 weeks) week between the Derby and the Preakness, that’s it…It should never ever leave Maryland…Period…The only move should be to Laurel Park…Frankie is the MJC and he needs to use some common sense (he didn’t show any with the slots) about this whole deal…If in fact he has any???…

  • Red Rider

    Pimlico was a dump my first visit in early 90’s. It is worse today with deteriorated (not deteriorating) grandstand/clubhouse, inadequate (euphemism) saddling area and paddock, and rundown backstretch facilities. It is in a terrible location. Expansion of the current facilities is required merely to house the ever growing rat population. The racing surface is the best and only moderately redeeming feature.

    Tear Pimlico and Laurel down and build one decent facility or get out of racing in MD. The state that so vehemently protects its “right” to the Preakness should give it a worthy home or see it replaced by a TC race at another venue. “Historic” is a poor justification for keeping shoddy, worn out, facilities that are an eyesore and embarrassment to anyone who preaches about the nobility and beauty of the sport. The two concepts are totally incompatible.

    • Don Reed

      Repeated for emphasis:

      “Expansion of the current facilities is required merely to house the ever growing rat population.”

      !!! Great line (& as Homer Simpson would say, “And its true.”) – Bravo!

    • Frankie would love to move the Preakness to Gulf Stream…Bet your ***** on that one!!!…

    • we’re watching

      You have no idea what you’re talking about, Red. It’s taken years to hit bottom and now the tracks have money to build purses, they had no money in the 90s and thanks to a few good people here, they survived and will now thrive. Why shouldn’t they protect the Preakness, Maryland has had it for 140 years. The area it is in is no different than where Churchill is, and in fact the surrounding area has many streets of old trees, well kept lawns that border some of the poorer edges of the city. The race belongs at Pimlico, and they can renovate the track bit by bit like any other facility anywhere in the world. Thank God MD racing has survived and the Preakness is the great race and event that it is, and it needs more positive thought and ideas and less negativism by peoplee like you. The customer service can be elevated, but the people under Stronach work under the same rate of pay as six years ago. Frank needs to pay people to get better results there.
      Go Preakness Go!!!!

      • Red Rider

        Unfortunately I do know what I am talking about. My view is based on reality; yours on a romantic dream and a love of beer. Frank will raise everyone’s pay and things will get better soon. Keep dreaming.

  • Richard C

    There has been so many promises made on refurbishing the two tracks that Pinocchio doesn’t know who to believe…..one thing is certain, though, a new Pimlico will not be built with the Preakness at the forefront of the blueprints; it will most certainly be scaled back, like any new racetrack in the era of racino madness. There are numerous big stadiums – Soldier Field and Ohio Stadium immediately come to mind – where bringing modern amenities was done through the utilization of the existing structure…..a salute to the past and future.

  • harry

    The question is do you really want to rebuild Pimlico where its located now!!! The area around Pimlico is terrible with drugs,gangs and killings everyday of year. The barn area is not safe as MJC has scaled back security at Pimlico when no racing. Seems to me a new modern track near Baltimore Inner Harbor would be much better than a “band air repair “where Pimlico is now situated. Frank Stronach has had year and years and years to improve both Laurel and Pimlico and nothing has been done. Maybe Frank should sell both to somebody who would take much more interest in Maryland racing than certainly he has done over the years.

    • Michael

      If you listen to the news Laurel has just as much or more drugs, gangs and killings as Pimlico.

      • BS…The Cops won’t even go in that combat zone around Pimlico unless there is a murder or a heavy shoot out…Even then they have to bring a combat brigade in armored personal carriers…

  • Noelle

    A proper renovation that corrects the many defects would probably cost more than razing and rebuilding. I think they should keep the track exactly as it is and completely rebuild the buildings. That way, you’d have the historically important part of Pimlico – the track where racing’s greatest horses have run – intact, while getting rid of the beat up old building with its depressing lack of amenities.

  • Noelle

    As to Laurel Park – same thing as for Pimlico. Keep the track, rebuild the facility.

  • Don Reed

    “Some, like trainer Doug O’Neill, are concerned…”

    And censured congressman Rangel lectured president Obama the other day about ethics.

  • Russel

    Pimlico is one of my favorite racetracks of the ones I have been to. I love the charm it has because it is old. I think some things need fixing up in a maintenance sort of way. And the barn area (aside from the stakes barn) could use some work. And you certainly can’t help the bad are its in but a lot of racetracks are in the bad area of town (cheaper land).

    Churchill has done more damage than good with their renovations.

    • It looks like do do…ty…

    • Red Rider

      Churchill is an endless maze. Monmouth is an example of a good old track; not Pimlico.

  • Renovations certainly need to be done at Pimlico and Laurel. Churchill did massive renovations over time and managed to keep the flavor of their facility in place, and that’s what I would be looking to do with both Pimlico and Laurel, including getting Pimlico to where it could potentially host the Breeders’ Cup in the future (though lights, even temporary ones would likely be a requirement for a BC to be held there). With the infield, Pimlico could easily hold 65-70,000 for a BC there that likely would be in a little milder conditions than a New York BC.

  • thevoiceoftruth69

    Reasons why to puy dynamite to Pimlico

    1. Worst paddock in America

    2. wooden floors have holes in them

    3. Obscure setup of grandstand to concourse

    4. Lack of decent seating other than by finish line

    5. Awful bathrooms (men can easily urinate on the person next to them if they move an inch) no spaceing between urinals

    6. an estimated 7 or every 10 homes in the area are vacant. crime is awful in that part of Baltimore

    7. The turf course is awful

    8. the backside barns are a disgace

    9. no indoor water facilities in barns (has to be an EPA issue)

    10. Most of all, current facility can’t handle the crowd on Preakness day

    Oh, and the roof of the grandstand roof leaks. But other than that it’s a great place.

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