First published in the June 2022 Equiery

Under legislation signed into law this April, the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) must provide two reports to the Maryland General Assembly on the progress of the redevelopment of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. These reports are due on or before September 30 of this year and by January 1, 2023, under the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020.

Each report is required to include the following: descriptions of efforts by the interested parties and MSA to reduce the overall project costs; reports on the cost and schedule for Laurel Park based on the programmatic desires of current ownership; and reports on the cost and schedule for Laurel based upon the implementation of recommendations from a report on the status of Maryland Thoroughbred racing operations which needs to include models and recommendations regarding future and planning operations for the Maryland Thoroughbred racing industry.

The General Assembly is expecting the following projects to be completed on or before September 1: design, architecture, engineering and permitting at the Pimlico site; testing and evaluation of the existing racing surfaces at Laurel, including geophysical borings; and demolition of the “old grandstand” at Pimlico on an expedited basis after considering ongoing racing operations there during construction.

According to a May 2 article by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) “must undertake all efforts necessary to evaluate the feasibility, limitations, costs and potential benefits related to the acquisition of the Laurel site by a government or non-profit entity to ensure the redevelopment and construction of facilities” at Laurel,” the law states. The MEDC will consult with the “mile-track Thoroughbred racing licensees,” Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Racing Commission, MSA, and any additional parties as necessary.

The law goes on to say the MEDC “shall enter into discussions with the owner of the Laurel racing facility site to determine the terms and conditions of a potential purchase or other transfer of all or a portion of the site to a government entity or non-profit corporation.”

The two reports must be provided to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, House Appropriations Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. The MSA will spend at least $2.5 million from the current Racetrack and Community Development Facilities Fund to pay for the reports.