County OKs Plan for Laurel Park Development

Magna Entertainment Corp. has received local approval to develop a commercial district at Laurel Park in Maryland.

The Anne Arundel County Council, at a Jan. 17 meeting, voted 5-2 to support the plan, the Baltimore Sun reported. Details of the plan weren't released, the newspaper reported, though MEC has said the development would include restaurants, shops, and a hotel to be located on the 363-acre property.

Maryland Jockey Club president Joe De Francis, during a Jan. 17 press conference, indicated the development would help keep the racetrack economically viable, the Sun reported. "The vision would be a new clubhouse/grandstand entertainment facility, ideally with slots, along with mixed-use retail," he said. "If we have slots, we will have a hotel."

County Executive Janet Owens has said retail development would provide services to residents in the western edge of the county and accommodate expected growth in military jobs at nearby Fort Meade. MEC officials see the expected influx of at least 15,000 defense workers as a potential base of new customers, the Sun reported.

De Francis told the newspaper the Laurel development isn't predicated on MEC receiving approval to install slot machines. The racing company is in the midst of a similar project at Florida's Gulfstream Park, which does have approval to install slots.

In Maryland, the racing industry has lobbied for slots for the past several years with no success.