The Stronach Group, which owns the Maryland Jockey Club, has announced that the northern grandstand at Pimlico Race Course will not be open for this year’s Preakness Stakes weekend.
The decision, which has been taken after an engineering study found that the section was unsafe, will lead to ticket-holders having to swap tickets for similar seating in other stands at the course.
The section, which has a capacity of 6,670, includes concourse boxes and reserved seating, as well as open-air seating.
“It is deeply disappointing for us and the affected ticket holders that at a peak moment in time when we generate the most amount of income for the industry, for our company, and for all stakeholders, and when we are poised to welcome racing fans to Preakness, we have to de-commission 6,670 seats,” said Bill Hecht, CEO of US Real Estate for The Stronach Group.
“As the safety and security is paramount to our guests and employees, this position to forego income should in no way be interpreted as anything other than that.”
The Stronach Group hired Baltimore-based engineering firm Faisant Associates to assess the facility. There have been reports in the US media that the Preakness Stakes could be moved eventually to Laurel Park.
In December, Maryland Stadium Authority recommended a $424m (£338m/€376m) redevelopment of Pimlico Race Course.
“Faisant Associates concluded that there has been significant deterioration to the northern part of the grandstand, the exterior portion of the facility adjacent to the Clubhouse,” The Stronach Group said.
“The northern grandstand is the old oldest portion of the structure dating back more than a century, with seating capacity for 6,670 guests, and is no longer suitable to sustain that level of load-bearing weight.
“As the safety and security of all guests and employees at Pimlico is paramount, the Maryland Jockey Club made the difficult decision to close that section of the grandstand for this year’s Preakness Stakes.”
The Preakness Stakes will take place on Saturday, May 18.
Image: Maryland GovPics