"There are multiple steps that can be taken to keep Pimlico as the most viable location "

 Dixon Still Trying
 To Steal The Election

 Why Sheila Dixon Would
 Be Bad for Baltimore

Follow Me On



Maryland Complete


Saving Pimlico

Douglas R. Barry  May 21, 2016

As we entered the week approaching the Preakness today, we once again started what's become our annual discussion on how to keep the race in Baltimore. Over the last couple of years, the Maryland Jockey Club/Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico Race Course, has repeatedly pushed forward the idea of moving the race to Laurel Park. There does seem to be a desire to find a way to keep the race in Baltimore, but the threat to move looms over the city year after year.

If the race is moved, it won't be the Preakness anymore. The passion behind the race comes from the fact that it's a longtime Baltimore tradition. A move out of the Baltimore metropolitan area would alienate tens of thousands loyal attendees. A larger facility doesn't necessarily mean a larger crowd. And anyone who truly cares about the sport would have more respect for racing tradition than to be looking around for other options. There are multiple steps that could be taken to keep Pimlico as the most viable location for the race.

Make Pimlico a Go-To Location

Baltimore has done this before. In the 1970's, most Baltimoreans rarely saw the Inner Harbor, even if they were nearby on a regular basis. It took the vision of Mayor Schaefer to transform the Inner Harbor into a world-class destination for locals and tourists. The harbor is now a big moneymaker for the city. We have the means to do the same with a neighborhood like Pimlico that has an attraction that can be used as an anchor for other attractions, restaurants and shopping. It takes only the will of city and state leadership such a project happen.

The race course revitalization should be part of the negotiation process with the city and state. A low-rise parking facility should be built over some of the current parking to increase the vehicle capacity, not only to help the track, but also to provide parking for other amenities added to the neighborhood. Mass transit to the track should be improved also to improve access to the race course.

We need to not only focus on the race course, but on the neighborhood as well. There are far worse neighborhoods in the city, but Pimlico is not exactly a desirable area either. To visit the race course and any other amenities that may be brought to the facility and nearby, people must feel secure, the area must be attractive and there must be an incentive for people in the area to take care of the neighborhood.

There must be a commitment from the city and state to put additional tax revenue generated by revitalization of the area back into the neighborhood, to continually improve the neighborhood. There must be a required commitment from project developers to hire extensively within the neighborhood. Adults must be given jobs that allow them to support their families. Teenagers must be given entry-level employment, and educated to have a good work ethic.

Neighborhood improvements must be handled in such a way as to not drive out current residents. Those young enough to work must be given opportunities to improve their financial situation. Older residents must be given tax credits to make sure that it doesn't cost them any more to live their home than it costs them now. Local businesses should also be given tax credits in exchange for sprucing up their properties.

Rebuild the Original Clubhouse

The old clubhouse burned to the ground in June of 1966, after standing for nearly a hundred years. While we could never bring back all of the history that was lost in that fire, we can revive the atmosphere and excitement that went along with the clubhouse. A rebuilt clubhouse with the same Victorian design, could provide a first-class dining experience and serve as one of the centerpieces for the revitalization effort.

Revive Maryland's Racing Tradition

As part of the effort to bring opportunities to Pimlico residents, we should start introducing local students to the horse racing industry. Elementary school students from all over the region, and especially from Pimlico, should be offered field trips to the race track, horse farms and other industry related locales. High School and College students should be offered internships in the racing industry. They can be taught industry skills and given future employment opportunities. Schools should educate students about the history of racing in Maryland, the race track and what it has done for the city.

The Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness, and the city of Baltimore need each other. Any money invested into the area will come back to the city many times over, and it will begin the process of bringing Baltimore's transformation to the entire city.