Funeral for a friend — So long horse industry (unless……)

November 03, 2010 | Drew Forrester

and the Maryland Jockey Club and say, “Let’s either move forward with a new facility or not.  But if it’s ‘not’, then why don’t you all just close everything down and move on with your lives…”

Remember the old saying — “pee or get off the pot”???

Drop your drawers and tinkle. Or hit the road. It’s that simple.

If they sell Bowie, Laurel and, eventually, even Pimlico, there’s plenty of money to be had and gobs of it can go in the direction of building a new state-of-the-art horse racing facility.

If you can’t build a new facility, just close everything down and we’ll all drive down Northern Parkway every third Saturday in May and look at what used to be the race track and say, “I remember going there and partying in the infield…”

Despite the sluggish economy, Baltimore remains a vibrant, bustling collection of small gathering spots like Federal Hill, Canton, Fells Point and Little Italy/Inner Harbor. Most of those places come alive at night, which is precisely how a state-of-the-facility could carve its niche into the market place 30 nights a year. Pick a night, I assume either Friday or Saturday, and offer some kind of 6-8 race card that gets people in by 7pm and out by 9:30 or 10pm. Attach one of the high-dollar steak places and add a nice wine and vodka bar adjacent to the facility. Create a $125 “couples night” where two people show up and get a steak dinner, glass of wine and $50 worth of gambling “chips”. For the out-of-town visitors who frequent Baltimore for conferences and such, put together some sort of special deal that can be offered to the organization(s) coming in to town. Make the facility upscale. If you want to wear jeans and a t-shirt and look like Willie Nelson on a good day, that’s fine, but don’t expect to hang around the city’s celebrities, because they’ll be gussied up and sitting in the good seats on the club level, sipping their Williamette Valley Pinot Noir and eating a 10 ounce filet from Ruth’s Chris.

If people will pay $8.00 a beer at a football or baseball game in town, and eat $30 or $40 worth of food in addition to their $50 booze-bill at the game, they’re just as likely to head down to the new track a couple of times a year and fork over $100 on a nice dinner and some small to moderate gambling.

The industry doesn’t need a bunch of degenerates who become track junkies. They need people to enjoy themselves when they do venture out to the track and make it one of those things — like golf, skiiing or boating — that they do 3-4 times a year with friends as “guys/girls night out”.

Women also need to be hanging around the new facility. Pretty ones would help. And you can rest assured if a new facility has a steak joint, some liquor hang-outs, gambling, and bright lights, the gals will magically appear. Those women