With the enactment of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 (RCDA 2020), the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) was authorized to finance up to $375 million for the planning, design, and construction of the Pimlico and Laurel Park Racing Facilities. Previously, MSA managed the Pimlico Race Course studies that examined the present conditions of Pimlico, and envisioned an ideal venue for the Preakness Stakes with year-round non-racing use of the facility for the benefit of the community.
Immediately upon the enactment of the legislation, MSA initiated the preliminary planning stages of procuring and engaging professionals to partner on this historic, highly complex, multi-jurisdictional, multi-year project. The project will primarily include construction and improvements of the racecourses, stables and clubhouses, at sites in both the City of Baltimore and Anne Arundel County.
Throughout 2021, the MSA worked with the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) and the horse industry to more fully program both the Laurel Park and Pimlico Racing Facilities. It became apparent in the summer of 2021 that the stakeholders desired significant changes to the Laurel Park program. The program at Pimlico had minor changes, but remained true to the 2020 plan that resulted in the RCDA 2020.
The complexity of the two intertwined projects, Laurel and Pimlico, also increased costs as the logistics of accommodating day to day equine training/housing for year round racing, proved to be more complex and expensive than originally anticipated.
The increased program desires at Laurel, the cost of transition, and the current economy (including inflationary forecasts and the expectation of reduced revenues from MSA’s bond deals) have led to Laurel Park being substantially over budget. The legislature reacted to this information and included direction to the MSA in HB897 Economic Development - Sports Entertainment Facilities and Events, Prince George's County Blue Line Corridor Facilities, and Racing Facilities in the 2022 session. HB897 requires MSA to evaluate Laurel Park from two perspectives. Firstly, report on the program, cost and schedule of an MJC owned and operated facility. This is the work that was essentially completed in 2021. Secondly, report on the program, cost and schedule of a horse industry owned and operated facility. This work is complete and the preliminary and final reports are available on the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) website. The DLS link for both reports can be found below.
MSA does not recommend entering design as directed under HB897 until the MJC Land Conveyance, Pimlico Development Agreement, the MJC Covenants and Restrictions Agreement with the City, and the MJC Covenants and Restrictions Agreement with LifeBridge are finalized. MSA will not begin an 18 month design effort on the project until the three agreements and land transfer are agreed to with the respective parties.
A schedule for the facilities will be established after the three agreements mentioned above are executed and the budget deficit identified in the final report is resolved.
HB897 also introduced Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) into the Laurel Park project. The Bill requires a report on the feasibility and a cost/benefit analysis of a nonprofit/governmental purchase and operation of the Laurel Park property.
Presently, the MSA is awaiting the formation of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority to provide further direction on the redevelopment of the racing facilities. Upon execution of the necessary agreements, MSA anticipates 18 months of design work before construction initiates.
Racing and Community Development Act of 2020:
Pimlico Race Course Study, Phase I & 2:
Maryland Stadium Authority Report on the Pimlico and Laurel Park Racing Facilities Redevelopment as Required by HB 897 / Ch. 61, Sec. 3(a), 2022
Al Tyler, Vice President, Capital Projects Development Group
Gary McGuigan, Executive Vice President, Capital Projects Development Group
Chris Deremeik, Assistant Vice President, Capital Projects Development Group
Ayers Saint Gross