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Proposal to renovate Laurel, Pimlico race tracks would keep Preakness in Baltimore

Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 06:48:52-05

BALTIMORE — Lawmakers heard from business leaders, county executives and others about the importance of Pimlico staying viable and the Preakness Stakes staying in Baltimore City.

Negotiations fell apart last year between the city and the Stronach group, who owns Pimlico and Laurel Racetracks. On Tuesday, they were working together.

Now there is a $389 million plan to renovate Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. The plan is to have Laurel Park worked on first with a new clubhouse, new track surface and improved stables.

While the track in Laurel is renovated, Pimlico will hold all racing events at its track. All that will be from 2021 to 2023.

"This is big for us because we could have lost the Preakness," said Mayor Jack Young.

Young testified on Tuesday. The middle jewel of the triple crown brings in million of dollars every spring.

The Preakness sits in the middle of the Kentucky Derby and The Belmont Stakes.

Alan Rifken, an attorney for the Stronach group, helped negotiate the agreement and thinks this is good timing.

"I think this is the right time. The plan makes sense, it's fiscally prudent and it addresses the issues," said Rifken.

The funding will be a combination of state money and casino money along with some construction tax breaks. The governor has kept an open mind on the bill but has not said if he"ll endorse the bill yet.

Under this bill, Pimlico would be ready in 2024 with its new facility.