Pimlico, Laurel, and Maryland's Horse Racing Subsidy: Myths Vs. Facts
On May 7th, 2020, Maryland’s horse racing advocates achieved a major victory. Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the controversial Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 (RCDA) to become law without his signature, thereby authorizing the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue $375 million in bonds to replace the state’s two main horse racetracks with gold-plated facilities. If everything works out as planned, Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County will be renovated first in 2021, then Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore will be renovated next, into a multi-use facility for racing and other events. While much uncertainties lie ahead due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the state hopes to issue bonds in 2021. The Maryland Stadium Authority also recently issued a request for proposal for architects who would like to redesign the tracks.
In short, the RCDA epitomizes Maryland’s recent history of fiscal imprudence. Assuming no cost overruns, overhauling the two racetracks will cost $389 million. To finance the project, the state will jeopardize its AAA bond rating by borrowing $348 million in a form of 30-year bonds. The cost of repaying the bonds will be $17 million a year over 30 years — a total of $510 million.
 Maryland General Assembly, Senate Bill 987, http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2020RS/bills/sb/sb0987E.pdf
 Jeff Barker, “Landmark Plan to Preserve Preakness Stakes in Baltimore Will Become a Law Without Governor’s Signature,” The Baltimore Sun, May 7, 2020, https://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/horse-racing/bs-md-preakness-baltimore-20200507-m6s6bfadknb5bcwajwqpxte4je-story.html
 Ed Gunts, “Pimlico makeover repositions racetrack as events venue, community hub,” Baltimore Fishbowl, August 27, 2020, https://baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/pimlico-makeover-repositions-racetrack-as-events-venue-community-hub/