Maryland Governor Allows $375 Million Racetrack Renovation Bill To Become Law

The Racing and Community Development Act of 2020, which will protect the long-term future of horse racing in Maryland through the rebuilding of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park into state-of-the art facilities, was one of many bills Gov. Larry Hogan allowed to become law without his signature on Thursday, May 7.

The legislation, which had broad bipartisan support in the House of Delegates and Senate, calls for the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $375 million in bonds for the projects through a combination of funds from the Racetrack Facility Renewal Account, the Purse Dedication Account, video lottery terminal payments to Baltimore City and money from the Maryland Lottery. The Act will take effect June 1.

The plan that led to the legislation was put together beginning last summer by Alan Foreman, legal counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Alan Rifkin, legal counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club; and Bill Cole, a consultant who previously served as President of the Baltimore Development Corp. The plan includes a new stable area, training facility and synthetic racing surface at Laurel and the ability to use the new Pimlico as a year-round event and community center. A major part of the legislation is keeping the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and giving the racetrack property to the city.

“It has been a long road, and we’re all thrilled about the future of Maryland racing now,” Foreman said. “It’s hard to believe, but this (plan) didn’t even exist a year ago. We took our best shot and put together a plan that is a win-win for everyone involved. This legislation got very little pushback and had strong bipartisan support. This is a very important day in the future of the Maryland racing industry.”

The legislation passed both houses on the final day of a General Assembly session shortened by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which ultimately led to a shutdown of numerous Maryland business and industries, including live horse racing. Foreman said the current environment will impact when the rebuilding plan can begin, but in the meantime the Maryland Stadium Authority will begin to do the necessary design work.

“We’ll have some breathing room in the transition period,” Foreman said.

Hogan, who also allowed legislation authorizing a statewide sports betting referendum to be on the November ballot this year, indicated in a release that he didn’t look favorably upon bills that increased spending or taxes. The Racing and Community Development Act was designed to employ funds already dedicated to the racing industry.

“We decided last year we needed to do this within our own means with existing revenue,” Foreman said. “We avoided a potential problem with a capital project that does not require (tax increases).”

The two-track reconstruction project will also provide many jobs, both in the construction phase and after the projects are complete, and protect one of the most important industries in Maryland, Foreman said.

Other key horse-related aspects of the Racing and Community Development Act are formation of a dedicated equine health, welfare and safety committee that will fall under the Maryland Racing Commission and produce annual reports, and a study into construction of an equine research and medical facility at the rebuilt Laurel.

Alan M. Rifkin, Esq., counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club and Preakness Stakes, said:

“On behalf of Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group, the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland racing industry, we are very appreciative that the “Racing and Community Development Act” is now law. We thank Governor Hogan, Senate President Ferguson, Speaker Jones, Mayor Young, County Executive Pittman and the many other state leaders who championed this historic law.

“We are confident that the near shovel-ready capital works projects included in the ‘Racing and Community Redevelopment Act’ will be a critical part of Maryland’s financial recovery, jobs creation and community and economic development.

“The Act, which addressed vexing issues that had long challenged the industry, now allows for the bright future and optimism of the Preakness at Pimlico for generations to come, year round racing at Laurel Park making it the epicenter of training and racing in the Mid-Atlantic, and the unprecedented reinvestment in the communities of interest served by the tracks.

“This is truly a defining moment in the history of the Maryland Thoroughbred racing industry and the State, and we are most appreciative.”

The post Maryland Governor Allows $375 Million Racetrack Renovation Bill To Become Law appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.