STRATEGY FOR THE VIABILITY OF THE PREAKNESS,
THE RACING INDUSTRY AND A BALTIMORE NEIGHBORHOOD
R. Barry May 21, 2016
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.
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.
Pimlico a Go-To Location
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
the Original Clubhouse
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.
Maryland's Racing Tradition
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.
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.