You will have to forgive me for not jumping in line to dole out congratulatory backslaps for the head-cheeses out at Pimlico. While Saturday’s infield crowd was more subdued and law abiding, it was also drastically smaller and older (on average) than past contingents.
For me, I simply don’t know who to believe …..
I’ve read numerous articles containing quotes from Maryland Jockey Club President, Tom Chuckas. I’ve also listened closely to his interview with Drew Forrester, during the Comcast Morning Show. And, I’ve concluded that he’s less than forthright in his comments and assertions.
Are you buying Mr. Chuckas’ estimate of nearly 78,000 people in attendance for the 134th running of the Preakness …..
Where were they – hiding in the stables? They weren’t in the infield, and many grandstand seats were empty, too. It’s been alleged that all sports franchises/entities fudge their gate numbers. By Saturday’s evidence, I’d say the horse racing industry is lumped in with the Orioles and others.
According to an interview in Friday’s edition of The Sun, Mr. Chuckas defended the new “NO BYO” rules, by reasoning that all sports leagues, including NASCAR, no longer allow fans to bring alcoholic beverages into the venue. He reiterated this belief during his conversation with Drew.
Strike the gong – WRONG !!!! Mr. Chuckas received some bad information or he didn’t do his research.
An overwhelming majority of NASCAR tracks allow fans to bring beer (in cans) into the venue. There are restrictions regarding cooler size. However, beer is allowed through the gates. This privilege is pretty easy to learn – by checking the websites of respective tracks. Thus, I’m inclined to believe Mr. Chuckas didn’t research how other sports handle this issue, or he just ASSUMED certain rules and protocol.
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn the folks at Pimlico assumed a lot of things going to into Saturday’s Preakness. Did they assume the crowd would be much larger? Judging by the amount of porta-johns and concession stands, I think it’s reasonable to suggest they really overestimated the popularity of the new rules.
In the days leading up to the event, Preakness officials resisted disclosing their projections on crowd size. Hmmm ….. they must’ve held out hope an overwhelming amount of diehard fans would cave and attend the race, in accordance with the new policies – even if pre-sales were down.
For the most part, those who showed up had a good time. And, many fans have raved about the peaceful atmosphere. I get that – I really do. I wouldn’t wanna be squatted next to a bunch of frat boys who are bent with a purpose of becoming the biggest ASSES, possible.
During the interview with Drew, Mr. Chuckas cited the positive comments he received from people attending the infield party, on Saturday. That’s good, I suppose. But, the concern should really be on the opinions of those who chose not to attend, rather than those who did.
The Orioles are likely to have a solid 15,000 (at most) attend their next home game. While those folks will most certainly have an enjoyable experience, the O’s would be best suited to figure out why 30,000 people chose to stay home.
Just remember ONE THING ….. the Preakness and horse racing is a business. To that extent, the business of horse racing supercedes the essence of the sport. And, in the spirit of the business and sport, I’ll imply that you can bet on that.
So, if the people who count – including the Maryland Jockey Club, Magna, Pimlico’s associates and other stakeholders made a profit on Saturday, things are bound to stay the same. If they lost money, there will be more changes. It’s really that simple …..
Personally, I think they took a huge risk …..
Over the past couple years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure and invaluable experience of being around some of the most capable business minds. Entertainment is their business and they’re extremely successful. I’ve learned a lot and I’m grateful for some life-changing lessons.
One thing I’ve learned is a business needs to embrace its patrons – ALL of its patrons. If a specific group does something that hinders the overall product or experience of others, it would make sense to work with them in resolving the discord. Pissing-off customers and creating an essential divorce with a distinct group is bad for business.
I won’t dance around the subject. Everyone knows the new “NO BYO” policies were directed at the college-age crowd. Yeah, the rules effect and apply to everyone – but, the “under 30” demographic is most known for doing anything and everything attributed to drunken fun, in excess.
Mr. Chuckas and his cronies knew exactly who the new rules would impact …..
I’m not saying the young bucks known for stupidly running atop porta-johns are good for business. Nor, am I suggesting the lad who staggers around like a Mike Tyson knockout victim – only to be found curled up in the fetal position by noon, is an asset, either. And, if someone gets caught throwing ANYTHING, they should be prosecuted and incarcerated.
To that end, I’m inclined to ask if Mr. Chuckas or ANYONE ELSE has taken proactive, progressively stringent action in cleaning up the past rawdiness, or did they allow it to exist for years, and take one GIANT, extreme measure now?
In Drew’s interview, Mr. Chuckas said “behavior the last 2 years in that infield was out of line” ….. “change was because people couldn’t party appropriately.” Okay, but I’ll say this ….. it’s the burden and responsibility of the establishment to work with the affected crowd to change behavior.
Mr. Chuckas can say what he wants, but for YEARS, Pimlico has ENABLED, FOSTERED and PASSIVELY PERMITTED that conduct to exist within the infield. Everyone knew it was going on. Yet, in one broad stroke of the brush they changed things by incredible means. There had to be a “middle ground” – there is always a middle ground and Mr. Chuckas missed it.
Another twist ….. Mr. Chuckas went on to draw a comparison to Drew having a party and allowing people to throw beer across his table. Well, the first thing to consider is “does Drew routinely ALLOW people to throw beer in his house, by not taking action against them, when they’ve done it during previous parties?”
I’d be willing to bet my life savings that if someone threw a beer in Drew’s house, he would deal with them on the spot (and, maybe shove a golf club up their rear-end), rather than waiting a year and changing the rules, which also impact the innocent.
Public service announcements, with actual criminal trial footage, during the Preakness event, would probably be beneficial. Also, common sense (there really is NO substitute for it) probably would have dictated a less-stringent approach by Pimlico officials. Yeah, I’m sure there were less-severe alternatives.
I’ll agree with Ray Bachmann, if a guy needs to bring 3 cases of beer to have a good time, he’s not the kinda person who’s valued. But, what’s wrong with allowing fans to bring a small cooler, with a maximum of 6 beers, per person? The cans of beer become treasured and won’t be wasted with a throw into a sea of unsuspecting victims.
Do a lot of fans drink more than 6 beers? Sure – and after drinking a half dozen freebies, they’re likely to buy the house product. Believe me – after a few drinks, they’re much more likely to splurge. But, as I said during the SUNDAY MORNING BLITZ, it’s awfully American to question and resist rules that forbid things that are usually allowed.
Look at it this way – if the college-age crowd wasn’t important or profitable, this brainstorm barring any outside beverages probably would’ve been hatched years ago. Their money is green and it spends …..
And, to be honest this entire subject is rooted in money. If Saturday was a financial struggle, things are likely to change. Whereas, if the folks at Pimlico made a tidy profit, the same strict policies are bound to remain in effect.
One last tidbit from Drew’s interview, and this really sums it up for me …..
Near the onset of the interview, Drew mentioned an email he received from a fan. In describing the email, Drew cited the fan’s belief that the folks at Pimlico ruined the fan’s event. Drew took a contrary position, and that certain fans have ruined “Pimlico’s event.” This was an EXCELLENT POINT and it gave Mr. Chuckas an opportunity to take ownership of the Preakness.
While Mr. Chuckas didn’t immediately commit one way or another, he did seize an opportunity a little later in the interview, when he said “our identity here is it’s the people’s race and the people’s party.” I’m glad he cleared that up.
In the end, I believe this “NO BYO” policy was a near-sighted, “shoot from the hip” reaction to a problem that was getting progressively worse, with each passing year. It was short of consensus building and just another example of taking extreme measures, because those in charge did NOTHING as the problem was worsening.
But, the bottom line is money and profit. If both are scarce after Saturday, things will change, again. Don’t believe the reported numbers from Pimlico. They’ll only share numbers if it suits them – remember, they wouldn’t talk numbers when it came to projections.
I’ll say this one last time ….. if they made money, things will likely stay the same. If they didn’t make money, things will likely not stay the same. Once again, you can bet on that.