Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sometimes stories cannot wait until Friday.

Most of you probably do not remember all of the backstage drama that went on before the Colts left Baltimore (25 years ago tomorrow.  How fitting, really, with what is happening right now).  After it had become apparent that all the other tactics had failed, the City of Baltimore tried to claim the team under the statute of Eminent Domain.  They failed, and many people (myself included) put the attempt to do this down as one of the major reasons he wound up moving the team.  Many people are convinced that he would have sold the team, or at least kept it here.  But egos are a funny thing, and if you have the kind of hubris it takes to own a major sports franchise or be a high profile publicly elected official (and no one ever accused William Donald Schaefer of lacking in hubris), well, we know what pride goeth before.

In the news today was this article...

Basically it is about the state looking into avenues to keep the Preakness in Maryland, since Magna Entertainment Corp. (the company that owns Pimlico, Laurel Park, and the Preakness) has filed for bankruptcy.

Now the horse racing industry has been walking on a razor's edge for a while around here.  Many of the proponents of slots were proponents because they would go to the tracks in the area and hopefully keep locals who currently go to Delaware and their horse tracks that are loaded with slot machines here in the area.  But it seems it has been too little too late for Magna.

The thing that scares me from the article is this...

In an interview, Senate PresidentThomas V. Mike Miller said there was "obvious concern" among state leaders that the federal court would ignore the Maryland statute in favor of creditors' interests. As a safeguard, he said, "I'd be in favor of passing a law allowing the state to condemn the track and the Preakness," and then buy the assets.

Basically, the Senate President is threatening to do to the Preakness what the city tried and failed to do to the Colts.  

Now I am by no means in favor of Baltimore and / or Maryland losing the Preakness.  It is a true feather in the cap of this city and state.  The entire world (if you want to see something interesting, look up how popular horse racing is in Japan and in the Middle East) watches this event (many in smoky gambling parlors, but still).  It is one of the oldest continuously held sporting events in the entire world.  We need to fight tooth and nail to keep it.  Find other investors.  See if the model of the Green Bay Packers would work (I bet you a lot of people who live around here would buy ownership stakes in the Preakness.  I would.  It might not be the best investment, but how awesome would it be to hand down to my children a piece of Maryland history, ensuring that it stays here?  That's worth $100 a share.  And I might only buy 1 or 2.  But I bet Boogie Weinglass would snatch up a few.  And so would Barry Levinson, and John Waters, and Cal Ripken, and the Purdues (I forget what Frank's kid's name is).  But I am afraid that the tactics being discussed will be the thing that drives this incredible event right out of our state (and if it goes anywhere, my money would be to Delaware).  It is like the old saying goes..."Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me".  I think we are risking fooling ourselves right out of the Triple Crown.

And in a very real way, it reminds me of another famous saying (at least it was when I was growing up)..."Don't be a dumbass".

I'm looking at YOU, Thomas V. Mike Miller.

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