“The Stronach Group has in fact met with Mayor Pugh and City officials on multiple occasions — including a meeting in the Mayor’s office on January 22 — but at no point in time was a proposal presented or discussed that had any feasible financial plans for the City, State or for the thoroughbred racing industry,” the company said in a statement issued to The Baltimore Sun.
Pugh and Baltimore lawmakers have been working to block a state bill that would help Stronach accelerate its plans to turn the company’s Laurel Park into a “super track” capable of hosting major races — which some fear includes the Preakness, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Under the bill, the state could issue $80 million worth of bonds to finance renovations at Laurel, which would be paid back with money from slot machine revenues that’s earmarked for improvements to the state’s race tracks.
As the mayor tries to block that bill, she’s supporting another bill that would create a work group to discuss how to fund renovations at Pimlico.
Both bills — the one to help Laurel and the one to study Pimlico — have stalled in the General Assembly, where there are only about two weeks left in the 90-day session.
Baltimore’s lawmakers have urged legislative leaders not to pass the bill that would accelerate the Laurel renovations. They also asked that any legislation include protections to make sure that the Pimlico property does not become a blight on the neighborhood if the race track shuts down.
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“You don’t take an asset out of one part of Maryland for another, particularly as important as the Preakness is to Baltimore City,” said Cardin, a Democrat. He said any move of the Preakness “is something we have to stop.”
“The state has a responsibility to make sure the Preakness stays in Baltimore,” he said.