BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s Preakness week and questions about Baltimore losing the second jewel of the Triple Crown are being answered with plans announced by the mayor for major long-term improvements.
Mayor Catherine Pugh announced new schools, new housing and new parks and recreation coming to the northwest Baltimore community.
Each year, the Preakness draws a national audience to Park Heights — a part of Baltimore that is long overdue for a makeover — and to Old Hilltop, which is now under a Maryland Stadium Authority study for renovation. That study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Pugh sees a major public and private commitment to Park Heights, $110 million to date, and a potential redesign of Pimlico Race Course as a sure bet to keep the Preakness in Baltimore.
But the same group that owns Pimlico also owns the updated Laurel Park and has been looking at Laurel — which is three times the size with $30 million in recent upgrades — as an option.
The Preakness drew a record crowd of more than 140,000 to Pimlico last year.
Pugh is making the Preakness a priority.
“I agree with the governor that the Preakness belongs in Baltimore. As a matter of fact, it is Baltimore. Just look at the history,” she said at a news conference at Pimlico on Thursday.
“I’ve made it clear, I will do everything possible to assure that the Preakness Stakes remains in Baltimore at Pimlico. With the city’s ability to attract investment and Sinai’s LifeBridge expansion, we strongly believe that the neighborhood has tremendous economic development potential and should remain the home of the Preakness.”
The owners have agreed to run the Preakness at Pimlico in 2019, but beyond that is in question.
It’s estimated that renovating Pimlico could cost between $250 to $320 million.
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