Baltimore Fishbowl: Pimlico makeover repositions racetrack as events venue, community hub

Pimlico rendering

By Ed Gunts
August 27, 2020

After being known for decades as the home of horseracing in Baltimore, Pimlico Race Course has the potential to take on a new role.

Instead of serving as a place for one major activity, horseracing, Pimlico can become a new multi-faceted entertainment venue that draws people with a wide range of interests, while continuing to host one of the nation’s premier sporting events, the Preakness Stakes.

Instead of being a barrier that separates Park Heights from Mount Washington, it can be a bridge that helps connect the two communities.

That’s the vision laid out on August 26 by public and private officials who worked for the passage of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020, the legislation that authorizes the state to issue $375 million in bonds for the reconstruction and repurposing of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park in Prince George’s County.

Advocates for Pimlico’s overhaul spoke about the property’s future during a Newsmaker Speaker Series talk conducted online and sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee: “A Win for Baltimore: The Renovation of Pimlico and Preserving the Preakness.”

The speakers included Bill Ferguson, president of the Maryland Senate; Nick Mosby, state delegate and candidate for Baltimore City Council president; Bill Cole IV, a partner of Margrave Strategies and former president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation and attorney Sean Malone, a partner in Harris Jones & Malone. GBC president and CEO Donald Fry was the moderator.

During the hour-long discussion, the speakers recalled the tense negotiations and behind the scenes maneuvers that ultimately resulted in funding to rebuild the grandstand and other aging facilities at Pimlico. They also outlined the benefits they hope to see once Pimlico is reconstructed.

One of the major changes to come from the legislation, Cole said, is that Maryland now has a new strategy for supporting horseracing in the state and operating the racecourses, which have been owned by the Stronach Group of Canada and will now become state property.

In addition to accommodating horseracing, Cole said, the new Pimlico will be designed to serve as a flexible facility for many other types of events, and surrounding land will become available for additional private development.

“At Pimlico, we’re going to end up with a much smaller clubhouse, which really is an events facility year-round, a brand new racing oval that will have a dirt and a turf track, and then roughly 50 acres of private development opportunity around the track.”

Cole said many of the events at the new Pimlico could be aimed at regional audiences, but others will be for the surrounding community. He noted that the plan includes athletic fields for use by nearby residents.

To read the complete story, visit the Baltimore Fishbowl website.

Source: Baltimore Fishbowl

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