BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This year’s second leg of the horse racing Triple Crown comes after a report estimating Pimlico racing facility needs hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations.
Pat Warren reports, the debate is over who would pay for it.
After a century of running in Baltimore, it just wouldn’t feel like the Preakness if it at Pimlico, but track owners may consider moving the race to Laurel in Prince George’s County.
Preakness is always a crowd-pleaser — the horses, the horseplay, the money spent. But for racetrack owners, Pimlico is a one-trick pony that doesn’t hold its own the rest of the year.
“The building’s just so old and retrofitting the building seems to be a problem from an engineering standpoint,” says Tim Ritvo, CEO of the Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Laurel, and says without investment from the city and state it’s putting its resources into Laurel
The lack of investment raises the stakes for keeping the Preakness in Baltimore.
“The third Saturday in may you know the Preakness will be run at Pimlico and we want to keep it that way,” says Baltimore City Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, who tells WJZ the Preakness is a vital factor in the state and moving it to Laurel, close to D.C. the state stands to lose.
“If people will go to Washington and spend their discretionary dollars in Washington, not in Baltimore if the race is run at Laurel. That’s why we need to keep it here. Not just to benefit Park Heights, not just to benefit northwest Baltimore or Baltimore City, but the entire region,” says Rosenberg.
The stadium authority study put a $300 million dollar price tag on Pimlico renovations.
Mayor pugh says she’s optimistic that the next legislative session could bring a private-public partnership to keep Pimlico’s Preakness tradition going.
State law says the Preakness cannot be moved from Baltimore unless there’s a disaster or emergency. The owners would need legislative approval to move it to laurel.
The Preakness was first hosted at Pimlico since 1873.