While eyes across the state were focused on Pimlico and the Preakness this weekend, another Maryland horse racing track continued a renovation project deserving attention.
The Maryland State Fairgrounds has begun a several year makeover of the property, specifically to it’s racetrack grandstand. The fairgrounds already completed renovations to its marquee sign on York Road and a new maintenance building earlier this year.
The upgrades are made possible by $5.5 million from slots revenue.
“We hope it’s going to make it more inviting for people to come in,” Howard “Max” Mosner, fairgrounds president, said.
Construction is underway on the second floor of the north and south end grandstand walls. After pulling down pieces of the enclosure, Mosner said he liked the openness and will not fully re-enclose them.
The Timonium Fairgrounds currently uses the grandstand for seven, of its state allotted 10 horse racing days a year, as well as a few large scale events like the Maryland Brewers’ Oktoberfest and (for one season, at least) the Timonium Scaregrounds.
“Down the road these decisions are going to have to take that into consideration—what else are we going to use this building for? Or is it just going to be used for a grandstand for races?” Mosner said.
Mosner “hinted” to lawmakers during the 2012 Maryland General Assembly, that the fairgrounds “would not be opposed” to housing year-round off-track betting at the fairgrounds.
“We’ve hinted to the racing commission that we would like to see more activity in there from a racing standpoint, but whether or not that’s going to be possible we don’t know,” Mosner said. “We have planted the seed with the racing commission that we would be interested in year-round off-track betting facility.
The way things are structured right now, we’re too close to Pimlico for that to become a reality unless Pimlico gets onboard with it.”
Current law mandates that two or more off-track betting parlors cannot be with 35 miles of each other.
Mosner and fairgrounds assistant general manager Andy Cashmen both said the likelihood of installing off-track betting would be “a long shot.”
Cashman added that renovation plans also included enhancements to the grandstands’ lobby and lounge area, which haven’t been updated since the 70s or 80s.