O'Malley, Legislative Leaders Tout Preakness Purchase Bill
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and both presiding officers of the General Assembly expressed support today for late-session legislation designed to help keep the Preakness Stakes in Maryland.
The bill would authorize the state to purchase or exercise eminent domain over Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and all rights and racing events that are associated with the Preakness Stakes and its trophy, the Woodlawn Vase.
The state would have the same authority with two other facilities owned by Magna Entertainment, Laurel Park race track and the Bowie Race Course Training center. The bill authorizes the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to issue bonds for these purchases.
The issue emerged after Magna decision to seek bankruptcy protection last month and sell many of its assets through bankruptcy court. The Preakness, the second jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown, is among Maryland's major sporting events.
O'Malley said that the tools in the bill are designed to give the state "maximum flexibility" to keep the Preakness in the state. "It's our hope that we might have to resort to these powers," he said.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) told reporters this "was a move I suggested two weeks ago. ... We're going to do everything in our power ... to guarantee we have a purchaser. It might be the state of Maryland. It might be someone else."
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) scheduled an afternoon news conference to talk about his support for the bill.
A hearing on the legislation is scheduled tomorrow morning, four days in advance of the legislature's scheduled adjournment.
April 8, 2009; 1:29 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly , John Wagner
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