Baltimore’s lawmakers are hoping to draw the reluctant owners of Pimlico Race Course into discussions about redeveloping the aging horse racing track.
Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat whose district includes the track, is among the sponsors of legislation that would require city and state officials and track owners to meet and come up with a plan to move forward on an ambitious redevelopment proposal drawn up by the Maryland Stadium Authority.
After dismissing two less ambitious options, the Maryland Stadium Authority proposed replacing Baltimore's faded Pimlico Race Course with a stylish – and costly – new track designed to open up its amenities to the surrounding community year-round and encourage development in the area.
But Ritvo made it clear that the only way his company would move forward with redeveloping Pimlico would be if the state or the city came up with a way to pay for it. He said while talks about Pimlico drag on, the company has been unable to move forward with its plans to overhaul Laurel Park.
Asked if Stronach Group was willing to put any of its own money into Pimlico, Ritvo said: “Probably not, no. Stronach Group has been pretty upfront the whole time that it didn’t make business sense for us to invest. But we’re still open to listening.”
Rosenberg said it’s not surprising that Stronach is bullish on Laurel.
The president of the Baltimore Development Corp. says an overhaul of Pimlico Race Course would likely require an investment of at least $125 million for infrastructure by city taxpayers — but could spur $700 million in additional development.
Ritvo talked with Anne Arundel County lawmakers Friday morning about a new liquor license for Laurel Park that would allow alcohol to be served daily until 2 a.m., instead of the current permitted serving time of two hours before until two hours after live or simulcast racing. The proposed license also would open the door for other restaurants or brewpubs to locate on the site as concessionaires.
Another bill being promoted by Stronach Group would allow some of the proceeds from slot machines that go into the Racetrack Facility Renewal Account — which pays for track upgrades — to be used to issue bonds to raise money for projects
Instead of having money go to the tracks on a year-by-year basis, the bonds issued by the Maryland Economic Development Corp. would raise a larger pool of money up front to pay for projects.
Ritvo told Anne Arundel lawmakers that his company envisions boosting Laurel Park to the point that it could attract a marquee race like the Breeder’s Cup.