04/01/2011 9:24AM

Laurel, Pimlico lose $6.9 million in last eight months of 2010


Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and its off-track betting facilities lost approximately $6.9 million during the last eight months of 2010, according to financial statements released by the track’s parent company on Friday.

The net loss was an improvement over a combined loss of $14 million from the operations for the full year of 2009, according to unaudited statements that the parent company, the Maryland Jockey Club, released two weeks ago. The Maryland Jockey Club is a partnership of MI Developments Inc. and Penn National Gaming Inc.

The loss for the combined operations was mostly due to the operations of Laurel Park, which posted a $6.9 million loss for the eight months. Pimlico eked out a $20,000 profit, while the off-track betting network posted a $50,000 loss, according to the documents.

The 2010 figures were bolstered by $8 million in non-wagering revenue for the Pimlico meet, a significant improvement over 2009. That year, non-wagering revenue was hit hard by a new policy that prohibited patrons from bringing alcohol into the infield for the Preakness Stakes. The policy contributed to a drop of 25,000 in attendance for the Preakness, but the figure rebounded in 2010 after Pimlico adopted a policy that allowed infield patrons to purchase a “bottomless” beer mug for $20.

Also in the 2010 figures, Pimlico and Laurel has approximately $1.8 million in costs related to the MJC’s efforts to support a referendum that would have reversed zoning approvals for a casino that is planned for a location 10 miles from Laurel Park. Voters rejected the referendum.

The results include only the last eight months of 2010 because the Maryland properties were transferred from the balance sheet of the bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp. to MI Development on April 30, 2010. Penn National bought a 49 percent stake in the assets after the properties were transferred, but officials at the company have confirmed that they are currently seeking to unwind their stake.

Earlier this week, shareholders of MI Developments approved a plan that will allow the company’s chairman, Frank Stronach, to take over the Maryland properties and the company’s other racing assets. The deal is expected to close on June 30. Stronach intends to operate the properties privately.