READERS SPEAK OUT ON BAN ON OUTSIDE ALCOHOL AT PREAKNESS

The Baltimore Sun

Most Baltimoreans can still recall a cold, snowy night in March 1984 when the city's beloved Colts rode out of town under the cover of darkness. Almost 25 years later, a few other horses could soon be riding out of Baltimore.

The Preakness, a tradition in Baltimore for the last 133 years, might be taking its final victory lap at Pimlico this year.

With the Maryland Jockey Club's announcement that the event will no longer allow infield ticket-holders to bring in their own alcohol (or any other drinks), the Jockey Club took another step in digging the grave for the Preakness remaining in Baltimore ("A drier Preakness," Feb. 6).

If the Jockey Club expects people to pay $50 for admission to the Preakness and then pay $3.50 for a beer, it clearly does not know its audience.

Adding a women's beach volleyball tournament and a few bands isn't going to convince most people that the $50 price tag ($60 if you purchase a ticket the day of the event) is worth going if they can't bring their own drinks with them.

With the recent disaster over the bidding for slot machines at locations across the state, it appears it will be some time before we get slots, and this will cause additional revenue loss for an already struggling racing industry.

Couple that with a severely rundown facility (at Pimlico), a horrible economic climate in which people aren't gambling as much and a decision about alcohol that is likely to cut in half the number of people who attend the Preakness' infield, and you start to see the pieces of the Preakness-leaving-Baltimore puzzle falling into place.

Banning people from bringing in alcohol won't curb rude, drunken behavior in the infield, especially if you still sell beer to those in attendance.

Plus, there is already a place at Pimlico for those who don't want to take part in the festivities; it's called the grandstand.

If the Maryland Jockey Club doesn't end this new ban, you can expect that the revenues for the 134th Preakness will suffer a huge loss,

I hope it can learn from its mistakes and will reverse course for the 135th running; otherwise, the Jockey Club may lead the Preakness down a path that results in the event running right out of Baltimore, just like some other horses did almost 25 years ago.

Dave Tucker, Rockville

After reading that the Maryland Jockey Club has decided to prevent spectators from bringing their own alcohol into the Preakness infield, I thought: Why don't they just forget the whole thing and move the Preakness down to Florida?

I cannot understand why the governor and the Jockey Club seem to have tried to do everything in their power to kill the racing industry in Maryland.

When the slots law finally passed, it should have included provisions to infuse money and slots into the two venues near and in Baltimore that made sense, namely Pimlico and Laurel racetracks.

These racetracks feel like they are stuck in the 1960s and need to be infused with money if they are going to stay viable.

Pulling stunts such as eliminating outside alcohol from the infield at the Preakness will be the beginning of the end for the race that has been part of Baltimore history for more than 130 years.

The infield is a party atmosphere for thousands of young people who have not been introduced to horse racing previously.

If you get rid of much of the booze, you might just be getting rid of the Preakness in Maryland.

Mark Zivkovich, Baltimore

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