Timeline For Pimlico Plus Project Discussed In Depth

June 3, 2024

The famous Pimlico apron. (Marilyn Bobby Photo)

MTHA Release

Maryland House Bill 1524, which authorizes the rebuild of Pimlico Racecourse and construction of a new Thoroughbred training center, was signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore May 9.

The legislation calls for issuance of about $400 million in bonds to pay for the new Pimlico and training center, the location of which has not been selected, however, a decision on a site location is expected by July 1, 2024.

A new not-for-profit entity—expected to take the name Maryland Jockey Club—is currently being organized and will be responsible for daily racing operations effective January 1, 2025. 1/ST Racing will, however, continue to oversee Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness days in 2025 and 2026.

Gary McGuigan, Executive Vice President of the Maryland Stadium Authority’s Capital Projects Development Group, provided a project timeline to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority (MTROA) in early May, calling it “the most challenging MSA project ever “. “It’s a very complex deal,” McGuigan said. There is a lot to be done and numerous agreements need to be in place. We expect the bond issuance early next year.”

Pimlico’s old grandstand, built in 1922, was closed in 2019. (Marilyn Bobby Photo)

Demolition work at Pimlico could begin by the end of 2024, and some construction could begin before the design work is completed. The old grandstand, which is condemned, and the brick barns on the backstretch probably will be the first structures to be removed and this is anticipated to occur before the 2025 Preakness.

Given the tight schedule—completion is planned by then end of 2027.

The current plan is to hold the 2025 Preakness—the 150th edition—at Pimlico using temporary stalls for horses and temporary facilities for attendees. 

Sunrise over the Turfside Tent. (MJC Photo)

On May 15, the State Board of Public Works approved five separate agreements that were required for the project to move forward. They involve transfer of rights to the MTROA; the transfer of the Pimlico property to the MTROA effective July 1; use of Laurel Park for racing and training for three years (2025-27) for $1 a year with a one-year extension, if needed, at a cost of $3.5 million, and permission for 1ST to conduct the Preakness through 2026; an exclusive licensing agreement under which the MTROA will pay 1/ST $3 million a year and 2% of total pari-mutuel handle on Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness days; and licensing of the Woodlawn Vase trophy to the MTROA.

The MTROA indicated it plans to hold its next meeting the last week of June.

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