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The future of Preakness is at stake

The Preakness will at least be in Baltimore for one more year
Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 28, 2019

BALTIMORE, Md. — State lawmakers are considering two bills Friday; HB1190/SB800 would offer a new 400-million-dollar view from Old Hill Top, or more worrisome for city leaders, HB990/SB88 which could clear the path for the Preakness to leave Charm city and go to Laurel.

“We will fight this with every fiber of our being because we believe, as is in statute, that the Preakness belong to Baltimore,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said.

Pugh made it clear Wednesday that Annapolis better make room for the large amount of people ready to testify to that same sentiment.

She implored the residents of Baltimore to come out for the plan that rebuilds the track in Northwest Baltimore as part of a larger year round mutli-use facility in Park Heights; to keep Preakness in Baltimore.

And from a billboard along I-83 on top of the Penthouse Club near downtown Baltimore that reads “Keep the Preakness in Baltimore,” to a Northwest Baltimore community center where the president of the greater Park Heights neighborhood associations is rallying the troops.

George E. Mitchell, who is also the president of the Langston Hughes Community Center is answering the call by lining up six buses outside his building tomorrow morning to hopefully transport 600 people to Annapolis to rally and testify.

Mitchell has lived in Park Heights his whole life here, remembers watching Secretariat win and he says the Preakness has no business in Laurel.

“It's like an Old Bay. It's like crabs. Why would you want to take something out that has been here 147 years. You take Old Bay outta Baltimore you know what would happen? You take crabs out of Baltimore, you know what would happen? This is a tradition that needs to stay,” Mitchell said.

Adding to the interest to Friday's hearing in Annapolis is the perceived disinvestment in Pimlico.

The Stronach Group, the company that own both Pimlico and Laurel Park, has been using 90 percent of state subsidies aimed at keeping up the state race tracks for the last few years at Laurel Park.

Instead the city says, some of that money and more should go to a vision released last month by the stadium authority that re-imagines Pimlico including a new track.

While the funding is still a question, the bill the city wants to support creates a work group to make a part or all the plan a reality.

“This is like our Super Bowl every single year,” Mayor Pugh said, “We get to showcase our city, we get to share it with the rest of the world and we believe in Pimlico and the investments that will take place.”

Urging the state to invest in nearly 150 years of history to be a catalyst for a neighborhood many say is close to rounding that last turn.