The Preakness Stakes is staying at Baltimore’ Pimlico Race Course. With some major changes.
The city of Baltimore and owners of Pimlico, the dilapidated racetrack that has hosted the Preakness for more than a century, told the Baltimore Sun on Saturday that a deal had been reached to end a bitter dispute over the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The Stronach Group, owners of the Pimlico racetrack, had previously threatened to move the iconic race to another of its properties in Laurel Park, 28 miles south of Pimlico and well outside of Baltimore. The prospect resulted in the city suing to block the possible move.
Pimlico was in dilapidated state
Funding for renovations at Pimlico was the crux of the issue. The 149-year-old racetrack has been in a sad state for years, most recently seeing an entire floor of bathrooms shut down due to a water main break during the 2019 Preakness.
The Stronach Group didn’t appear eager to pay the hundreds of millions it would take to modernize a property that sees only 12 racing days a year. One report from the Maryland Stadium Authority said the track should be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $424 million.
The deal for Baltimore to keep the Preakness
Under the new deal, the Stronach Group has reportedly pledged to donate the Pimlico land to the city. Pimlico’s grandstand and clubhouse would be demolished and the track would be rotated 30 degrees to create parcels of land that could be sold for private development. The Stronach Group would sign a lease for a minimum of 30 years to use the property for two months a year, with the city using the infield and other areas as athletic fields and event spaces for the rest of the year.
Pimlico will receive $199.5 million for the project, while Laurel Park will reportedly receive $173.4 million for a new clubhouse and training facilities, an all-weather track, new stables and new housing for backstretch workers. Per the Los Angeles Times, the Stronach Group has been seeking to land the Breeders’ Cup at Laurel Park and the renovations could help that effort.
Funding for the deal would come from the extension of subsidies paid by slot machines in Maryland casinos.
The deal must be ratified by the Maryland state legislature, as it requires multiple changes to state law. The estimated construction timetable would require three to four years of work, with Pimlico continuing to host the Preakness during that span.
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