MTROA provides update on MD racing redevelopment plan

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority Sept. 20 provided an update on the redevelopment plan for Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park during a webinar hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association for its members.

The MTROA was created via legislation approved by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year. The authority is working with the Maryland Stadium Authority and Maryland Economic Development Corp. on the redevelopment plan, which was authorized by state lawmakers in 2020.

The original plan called for reconstruction of both tracks for $375 million derived from a share of casino video lottery terminal revenue dedicated to the racing industry and bonds. Reports prepared last year for the General Assembly indicated the initial estimate was far below the amount required to rebuild both facilities.

The MTROA is required to report back to the General Assembly by Dec. 1 on the status of the plan. MTROA Chairman Greg Cross during the webinar said the authority is focused on Pimlico being the lone major track in the state; identifying locations for a training center given the fact a rebuilt Pimlico could only house about 350 horses; and reviewing other “operational models” that would best suit Maryland racing.

Pimlico and Laurel are owned by 1/ST Racing (The Stronach Group). Officials during the meeting indicated there are still no signed agreements from TSG to turn over the Pimlico property to the city of Baltimore as was mandated in the 2020 law, and that they still have not received word from TSG on the absolute value of the Laurel property.

Though Laurel will remain open for racing and training for years to come, MTROA and MSA officials indicated the property is problematic for redevelopment given environmental issues, easements, and the probable need to completely replace all infrastructure. Alan Foreman, general counsel for the MTHA and a member of the MTROA, said multiple sites are being considered for a new training center, including the old Bowie Training Center, the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, the Fair Hill property, and the Naval Academy Dairy Farm property in Gambrills in Anne Arundel County.

Should the project move forward quickly, the earliest demolition could begin at Pimlico is after the 2024 Preakness Stakes meet. Officials said the redevelopment of Pimlico would likely take four years start-to-finish.

Foreman said negotiations with TSG have not yet begun on a new 10-year agreement, which earlier this year was extended through Dec. 31, 2023. He said with creation of the MTROA, which if necessary would oversee racing operations, “we can feel good about the continuation of racing beyond” Jan. 1, 2024.

The MTROA announced it has two upcoming public meetings: Sept. 29, when it will hear from TSG officials, and Oct. 8, when the MTHA will make a presentation. The meetings thus far have been held at the MSA office in Baltimore and are available to view live online.

The following reports are available:

Interim report on future funding models for Maryland racing

Laurel Park feasibility report

Maryland Stadium Authority report on redevelopment plan

Maryland Stadium Authority presentation to Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority