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Renovation plans for Laurel Park, Pimlico continue to experience complications

To keep the Preakness in Baltimore, the Maryland General Assembly approved $375M in bond funding two years ago "to renovate both" Laurel Park and Pimlico, but the work has been "postponed due in part to COVID-19 as well as other complications with logistics, the design process and a thorny $30 million-plus tax question," according to Hayes Gardner of the BALTIMORE SUN. Laurel Park’s renovation was "slated to begin first and be completed this year," but following setbacks there, the General Assembly in February decided that Pimlico -- which is "expected to continue to host the Preakness during construction -- would proceed first." The timeline for the Laurel Park project "remains undefined," but site work is "scheduled to begin at Pimlico immediately after next year’s Preakness, with hopes to be finished ahead" of the race in '26. Much of the current infrastructure will "be torn down" and instead of being permanently replaced, "temporary structures and seating will be brought in annually" for the Preakness. The original concept called for the new Pimlico oval to "be just under a mile," but that would "jeopardize the track’s status as a championship host, so the track was modified to a mile." Meanwhile, the expected construction budget for Pimlico has "risen, from around $200 million to $220 million," but the Laurel budget "remains unknown." Due to "needed additions and soaring construction costs," it will "certainly be more than anticipated, which will require more capital, another unresolved hurdle." If costs are not cut, "more financing would be needed -- from where exactly remains unknown" (BALTIMORE SUN, 5/13).

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