Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,189 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to open up a conversation about the future of Pimlico Race Course as it appears a move of the Preakness Stakes to Laurel is likely unless the State/City puts up $300 million to $500 million for a renovation.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/horse-racing/bs-sp-ritvo-preakness-pimlico-laurel-0519-story.html

“We’ve made it pretty clear that we’re not going to put any funds into it,” Ritvo said. “No. 1, we don’t have any funds to put into it. We’re a privately owned company that has no debt and we’re in good shape. But at the same time we’re not looking to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a facility here and continue to renovate Laurel.”

“If the state — and obviously I say city and state because I don’t believe the city can do it either — if the state believed that there was a commitment that needed to be done through the [Maryland] Stadium Authority or something, obviously that’s something that we would consider,” Ritvo said. “We want to make sure we’re not here holding a gun to anyone’s head or looking for a handout.”

After saying there would be a more “elevated” experience at Laurel than Pimlico for the Preakness, Ritvo was asked if he would personally like to move the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown about 30 miles south. There have been reports that next year’s Preakness could be the last held at Pimlico.
First off I'd like to say it's a shame it has come to this. This is entirely the fault of Stronach/Magna. Some of Baltimore's richest families were lined up to buy the tracks at auction, but the sale never happened and we were stuck with Stronach/Magna. Then, when the casino licenses were offered, which were created specifically to go the tracks, Stronach/Magna didn't have the money at the time, and didn't even bid.

Clearly one of the new buyers, which could have been Cordish, Plank, or the Angelos family, would have been in position to build a casino at Pimlico and put some money into the track and property.

Since then, Stronach has put big money into Laurel, while claiming there is no money to put into Pimlico. I can't think of any reason to do this other than to slowly plan a move of the Preakness to Laurel. One would think Laurel would be a more valuable plot of land to sell or redevelop.

I get that Park Heights leaves a lot to be desired, but Baltimore has supported the heck out of Preakness for 143 years. If there was more luxury boxes in the grand stand, I'm sure those would get bought up too. A redeveloped Pimlico Race Course also could have really spurred redevelopment in Park Heights... all you have to do is extend "Mount Washington."

With all that said, it begs the question, is it better for Baltimore to get to put that much public money into Pimlico and waste a ton of political capital with the State, or is better to let Preakness go to Laurel, and see a redevelopment of Pimlico's land that could really help the area?

Personally, I'd probably rather have an arena, a soccer stadium, an expanded convention center, or lots of money for park projects than throwing that much state money into Pimlico if it's an either/or.

I think best case scenario is a redeveloped Pimlico property with the race course still there, but that looks unlikely at this point. I have always said if it remains they should put a soccer/lacrosse sports facility at the infield.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Just want to clarify a point that I'm not sure about myself - am I correct in thinking that moving the Preakness requires approval of the General Assembly? Is it pretty much assumed that the votes are there to do that?

What would that look like? If Stronach announces that they want to move the race to Laurel, is the General Assembly just a rubber stamp?

I mean, anti-Baltimore sentiment is more or less inherently ingrained in the institution of the General Assembly, so I have no reason to believe that legislators would vote to keep the race in Baltimore, but I'm just curious about what actually needs to happen for approval to move the race.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
Keeping the Preakness in Baltimore is at the top of my list right now. It's our Super Bowl. It has a long tradition and is a huge deal. I want an arena, a soccer stadium, etc, but none of those are as dire as losing this race. All of those things can be built later, and some of those things can be public/private partnerships or even all private.

We cannot afford to lose the race. It will be almost as bad as losing the Colts. We will regret it until the end of time. Rebuild the racetrack at Pimlico and make it on the level of Churchill Downs. Use it as a catalyst for fixing up the surrounding area. Lure concerts and festivals during the spring and summer. Use the infield for major lacrosse and soccer tournaments, or flag football games. Make sports betting legal and available at the track.

It doesn't have to be used a few times a year like it is now. It can be used more often. This city just lacks imagination, innovation and the ability to aspire to be great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,189 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just want to clarify a point that I'm not sure about myself - am I correct in thinking that moving the Preakness requires approval of the General Assembly? Is it pretty much assumed that the votes are there to do that?

What would that look like? If Stronach announces that they want to move the race to Laurel, is the General Assembly just a rubber stamp?

I mean, anti-Baltimore sentiment is more or less inherently ingrained in the institution of the General Assembly, so I have no reason to believe that legislators would vote to keep the race in Baltimore, but I'm just curious about what actually needs to happen for approval to move the race.
Current State law requires the race take place at Pimlico.

https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimo...te-lawmakers-suggest-moving-preakness-to.html

But, if Stronach makes a case that Pimlico is decrepit and the only option is to move it to Laurel Park, unless Stronach gets $300 million+ from the state, I could see enough lawmakers voting to change the law.

If this happens, hopefully Baltimore could get a huge concession out of it.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Thanks for the clarification. Any idea why Under Armour declined to participate in Preakness this year?

Personally, what frustrates me most about the situation is that it feels like theft of cultural heritage. Baltimore is such a unique city with a long history and old traditions built up over many generations. To think that you can simply pick up that tradition, detach it from the place that gave birth to it, and then place it down intact in a new location to which it bears no connection is a mistake. Moving the Preakness to Laurel Park would be no different than moving the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona to Tulsa, Oklahoma and pretending that there is some continuity there.

But for many in the counties, it is not uncommon for them to lay claim to what they like to call "Old Baltimore, Maryland," a fictitious place drowned by nostalgia that exists only in their collective imagination. It allows them to pretend that Baltimore is no longer a real place with real people. They believe the city ceased to exist when they left, and therefore, the city's cultural heritage is free to be raided and transplanted to wherever they are now (this is not a unique phenomenon, by the way; I also see this with my family in Miami who act as though Cuba ceased to exist in 1959).

But the truth is that traditions do not work that way. Traditions are tied to place. If the tradition ends in Baltimore, then it ends. It cannot be moved or revived somewhere else. I'd rather see the race just die than have someone try to pretend that the tradition is alive and well in Laurel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
Thanks for the clarification. Any idea why Under Armour declined to participate in Preakness this year?

Personally, what frustrates me most about the situation is that it feels like theft of cultural heritage. Baltimore is such a unique city with a long history and old traditions built up over many generations. To think that you can simply pick up that tradition, detach it from the place that gave birth to it, and then place it down intact in a new location to which it bears no connection is a mistake. Moving the Preakness to Laurel Park would be no different than moving the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona to Tulsa, Oklahoma and pretending that there is some continuity there.

But for many in the counties, it is not uncommon for them to lay claim to what they like to call "Old Baltimore, Maryland," a fictitious place drowned by nostalgia that exists only in their collective imagination. It allows them to pretend that Baltimore is no longer a real place with real people. They believe the city ceased to exist when they left, and therefore, the city's cultural heritage is free to be raided and transplanted to wherever they are now (this is not a unique phenomenon, by the way; I also see this with my family in Miami who act as though Cuba ceased to exist in 1959).

But the truth is that traditions do not work that way. Traditions are tied to place. If the tradition ends in Baltimore, then it ends. It cannot be moved or revived somewhere else. I'd rather see the race just die than have someone try to pretend that the tradition is alive and well in Laurel.
I believe it was simply a cost-cutting measure in light of their recent financial struggles. Instead, they took a day the week before Preakness to do community service at three different city schools.

The race would not be anywhere near the same at Laurel. It would become a super-ritzy, smaller version. It would probably be a much smaller version of the Kentucky Derby, unless they built much bigger grandstands, because the infield is a no-go because of the lake. It would lose the charm it has in Baltimore. If Baltimore rebuilt the grandstands, they could add suites and a lot more additional seats and could probably push the Kentucky Derby in terms of attendance. It would probably be a little smaller, but I could see more than 150K at the Preakness.

Anday, that article being behind a paywall is a joke. It says nothing new. Just mentions that Pugh is pushing a revitalization plan and cites a few different politicians/stakeholders saying they will fight to do everything they can to keep it in Baltimore. It also gives a quote from Stronach where they seem to want to push it to Laurel, refuse to invest further, but say they aren't asking for a handout, have compassion for the Park Heights community, and would do something to help the area with the track should the race move to Laurel as they obviously own the land. But I doubt he is being truthful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,126 Posts
Along with the suggestions Osfan24 mentioned, additional equine activities and competitions including dressage, eventing, show jumping and horseball should be considered. A riding program tailored to youth and those with special needs which provides therapeutic exercises, riding skills, games and caring for their mount. Something similar to second chance farms in Sykesville to help those who have been incarcerated learn skills caring for horses. And last but not least a Preakness museum.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,770 Posts
Thanks for the clarification. Any idea why Under Armour declined to participate in Preakness this year?

Personally, what frustrates me most about the situation is that it feels like theft of cultural heritage. Baltimore is such a unique city with a long history and old traditions built up over many generations. To think that you can simply pick up that tradition, detach it from the place that gave birth to it, and then place it down intact in a new location to which it bears no connection is a mistake. Moving the Preakness to Laurel Park would be no different than moving the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona to Tulsa, Oklahoma and pretending that there is some continuity there.

But for many in the counties, it is not uncommon for them to lay claim to what they like to call "Old Baltimore, Maryland," a fictitious place drowned by nostalgia that exists only in their collective imagination. It allows them to pretend that Baltimore is no longer a real place with real people. They believe the city ceased to exist when they left, and therefore, the city's cultural heritage is free to be raided and transplanted to wherever they are now (this is not a unique phenomenon, by the way; I also see this with my family in Miami who act as though Cuba ceased to exist in 1959).

But the truth is that traditions do not work that way. Traditions are tied to place. If the tradition ends in Baltimore, then it ends. It cannot be moved or revived somewhere else. I'd rather see the race just die than have someone try to pretend that the tradition is alive and well in Laurel.
I could not agree more. Well said PeterSmith. Baltimore is the Preakness and the Preakness is Baltimore. They are intertwined and always should be. You do not plop this tradition into another place. There is no other place for the Preakness. If it goes outside of Baltimore than it is not really the Preakness anymore. This city and state should do everything in their power to keep this tradition alive in Baltimore. Cultural heritage is so important. Otherwise we might as well be "Anywhere USA". It's sad this world is becoming so homogenous, and things like this don't help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
808 Posts
I'm sure that Stronach is trying to get huge concessions out of the State to pay for massive upgrades to Pimlico so that they don't have to, using the implied threat of moving the Preakness.

The same way that when professional ball clubs want new stadiums and have the taxpayers foot the bill, they just threaten to move to another city.

But yes, moving the Preakness from Pimlico would be more egregious than moving the Masters from Augusta National.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
SPending $300 million for something that's only relevant one weekend a year is obviously one hell of an investment for a city that needs that money spent elsewhere.
There are a lot of other things that occur once a year that are really big and worth it. Super Bowl, Final Four, etc. This race has tremendous history and a legacy here. To lose it would be devastating. Was it worth losing the Colts?

And we spend a ton of money on other things in the city all the time and it makes no difference whatsoever. So much money is just wasted.
 

·
Dantini_HeKnewHoudini
Joined
·
255 Posts
Pimlico needs to saved

Why would anyone think that losing the Preakness and Pimlico Race Course might be appropriate given that money could be spent elsewhere.

First of all, what money is being spent on Baltimore? Red Line, State Center, more?

We need to spend money on things that are Baltimore. What bigger event says Baltimore more than the Preakness. Nothing.

With the lousy press we constantly get, losing the Preakness will be devastating. We will never recover. Crime, drugs, gangs, murder; that’s all I hear about B’More.

Pimlico is ancient and it looks it. No one paid for any maintenance for how long?

Where is the leadership? What is the marketing budget to sell Baltimore to the world?

Sorry, I am just frustrated that the City of Baltimore just never learns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,189 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The site has so much potential, but it's a shame the state would essentially be giving them $300 million plus for a facility Stronach would still own. We already know they would spend the bare minimum on upkeep and improvements.

It's really a shame this was not the casino site. You could have just built the casino into the grand stand, and boom, there's your upgraded facility with a bunch of new restaurants, and amenities.

This redevelopment really needs to be a dynamic place. There needs to be some great restaurants on site, they should maybe build a hotel or some apartment buildings in the lots, they should build an amphitheater for concerts, they should turn the infield into a lacrosse/soccer complex, should run weekend farmers markets, and should host as many events as possible that bring people in front of horse races.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
506 Posts
There are a lot of other things that occur once a year that are really big and worth it. Super Bowl, Final Four, etc. This race has tremendous history and a legacy here. To lose it would be devastating. Was it worth losing the Colts?

And we spend a ton of money on other things in the city all the time and it makes no difference whatsoever. So much money is just wasted.
The Super Bowl and Final Four are played in venues that have revenue streams for dozens of events per year.

The same can't be said about Pimlico
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
The Super Bowl and Final Four are played in venues that have revenue streams for dozens of events per year.

The same can't be said about Pimlico
Sure it can. The only reason it isn't used for multiple events a year is the place is an absolute dump, it's in a bad area, and there is literally no creativity by the city/track owners.


There should be multiple concerts and at least one huge music festival there per summer. You could have lacrosse, soccer and baseball tournaments and games there all the time, including for teams in the community. You could set up a food truck festival there. I'm sure there are plenty of other ideas that people smarter than me could come up with.


And then if you actually rebuilt the track and made it nice, it would be part of a bigger effort to create something valuable to the community. It could include a library, a job center, an actual grocery store with healthy foods, an entertainment center with a bowling alley, a movie theater. You could create a light rail and subway spur to directly service the track. The possibilities are somewhat endless, but innovation and imagination is needed and that's not the city's strong suit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
302 Posts
SPending $300 million for something that's only relevant one weekend a year is obviously one hell of an investment for a city that needs that money spent elsewhere.
Yup. would be dumb beyond belief. Same reason I hope DC does not bring the Redskins into the city.. Cant have a massive NFL stadium and parking sitting empty 355 days a year. Waste!

Capitol One arena on the other hand is in use 250 days a year. Baltimore should get an NHL and NBA team.. then build something downtown.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top