Maryland lawmakers authorised a plan to rebuild Baltimore’s storied however antiquated Pimlico Race Course and switch the monitor to state management within the waning hours of the state’s legislative session on Monday.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers authorised a plan to rebuild Baltimore’s storied however antiquated Pimlico Race Course and switch the monitor to state management within the waning hours of the state’s legislative session on Monday.

The measure would use $400 million in state bonds to rebuild the house of the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes.

The laws additionally requires transferring Pimlico from the Stronach Group, which is the present proprietor of Pimlico and close by Laurel Park, to a newly fashioned nonprofit that may function underneath the state.

The 105-32 vote within the Maryland House sends the invoice to Gov. Wes Moore, who has expressed assist for it.

“We assume it’s necessary to not simply ensure that we’re defending an trade which means quite a bit to this state, not simply by way of its historical past however by way of its future, but additionally this is a crucial invoice for the group,” Moore, a Democrat, advised reporters earlier within the day.

Under the plan, the Preakness would relocate to Laurel Park in 2026 whereas the brand new facility is being constructed, earlier than returning to Pimlico, possible in 2027. The short-term transfer would come because the third Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, is scheduled to return to Belmont Park from a two-year hiatus at Saratoga Race Course whereas the New York monitor undergoes a $455 million reconstruction.

The invoice, which was launched late within the session, confronted a shaky path by the legislature. Some lawmakers had been involved concerning the state assuming legal responsibility for working prices. The measure was amended to make use of horse racing purse accounts to cowl working losses.

“I’m glad to wager on ourselves, however there’s a purpose that the trade has been struggling, and we will solely achieve this a lot,” mentioned Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat. “It’s not a clean examine, and so this caps the legal responsibility for the state.”

Maryland lawmakers authorised a plan in 2020 to rebuild the monitor, however it by no means bought off the bottom. The new plan will increase the quantity of state bonds for use from $375 million to $400 million. The plan additionally requires a coaching facility, with particulars to be decided.

The state has been wrestling with what to do to revive the outdated racetrack for many years. Aptly nicknamed Old Hilltop, the monitor opened in 1870. It’s the place Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat and plenty of others pranced to the winner’s circle.

But its age has lengthy been a priority. In 2019, the Maryland Jockey Club closed off practically 7,000 grandstand seats, citing the “security and safety of all friends and staff.” The Preakness has struggled to attract pre-pandemic attendance numbers lately, right down to 65,000 individuals in 2023 for Friday and Saturday in comparison with greater than 180,000 for a similar days 4 years earlier.

At the tip of the legislative session final yr, the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority was created and tasked with taking one other have a look at choices, and it made suggestions in January to spend money on Pimlico to tackle a better position in holding races.

The horse racing trade has lengthy performed an enormous position in Maryland tradition. The racing trade and different equine industries have been a cornerstone of Maryland agriculture, in addition to an integral a part of preserving inexperienced house. The equine trade has an estimated $2 billion direct financial affect on the state.

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