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Preakness May Have to Leave Baltimore for Laurel to Stay in MD

THE AFRO — Baltimore may have to rely on the CIAA Basketball Tournament to recoup whatever the city may lose in tourism dollars if the Preakness moves to Laurel in 2021.  Despite pleas to keep the second jewel of the Triple Crown in Charm City, Laurel Race Track appears to be the choice of The Stronach Group, who owns both venues, but wants grow the track that sits on the edge of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties into a “super track” in the near future.

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By Mark F. Gray

Baltimore may have to rely on the CIAA Basketball Tournament to recoup whatever the city may lose in tourism dollars if the Preakness moves to Laurel in 2021.  Despite pleas to keep the second jewel of the Triple Crown in Charm City, Laurel Race Track appears to be the choice of The Stronach Group, who owns both venues, but wants grow the track that sits on the edge of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties into a “super track” in the near future.

Baltimore acting Mayor Jack Young implored the state legislature last week to quash a bill that would continue funding for the Stronach Group, who has been guaranteed $87.2 million in Gov. Hogan’s 2019 budget to spend on racing facilities.  However, according to reports, the company has spent $14.3 million at Laurel and only $1.4 million at Pimlico.

The premiere HBCU basketball tournament traditionally brings an impact of $50 million to the city of Charlotte, who Baltimore won the bid from in February. If the Preakness moves 26 miles south and the basketball tournament proves successful, the tourism and hospitality impact could prove to be negligible.

However, Baltimore’s loss may be Laurel’s gain. Laurel could possibly get a boost from the Stronach Group’s plans to consolidate its facilities there and they have been very public about wanting to turn Laurel Race Track into an entertainment destination whether the Preakness moves or not. The group has made it known that it would like to host the Breeders Cup at the track, but that would require state lawmakers to approve an additional $120 million for upgrades at the property.

The state’s 2019 budget allocation to use on racing facilities comes from a state Racetrack Facility Renewal Account that is paid through casino slot games.

According to reports, the Maryland Stadium Authority estimates repairs and new construction around Pimlico would cost $434 million. Laurel Race Track needs $120 million to repair the barn area, modernize the clubhouse and relocate the wetlands on the property, but the Stronach Group wants the state to provide that money too.

However, Laurel also has its own concerns. Residents of the community have traditionally complained they weren’t interested in dealing with more traffic in the area where MD Rt. 198 extends from Fort Meade past Baltimore Washington Parkway to US Rt. 1. The two lane roadways in each direction have become congested in recent years thanks to housing communities being constructed and the emphasis on retail business.

“It would probably mean things get tighter in the area,” said Mr. W., a 30-year resident from Baltimore who didn’t want to be identified by the AFRO since he’s a government contractor. “I could see it benefitting the area because there’s a lot of redevelopment going on around here. I would hate to see the Preakness leave Baltimore though.”

The race track has also been under scrutiny from Maryland Jockey Club and state lawmakers, who have been evaluating conditions for employees who live there. Baltimore state Delegate Nick Mosby and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman lead a contingent that toured the facility on April 5.

However, if bringing Breeder’s Cup races to Maryland truly is a goal, each of Maryland’s century old racing facilities needs major renovations. Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., home of the Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Park in New York, which hosts the Belmont Stakes are entertainment venues with activities that attract more than gamblers who bet on races.

“I support improvement of Laurel and turning that into an entertainment destination, regardless of whether the Preakness moves,” Pittman said.

This article originally appeared in The Afro

Bay Area

Parade Planned to Honor Historic Pinole Valley High School Football Season

The Spartans football team captured its first ever state title last fall, defeating Mendota High 34-21 in the Division 7-AA California State Championship. The victory marks the first time a West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school has earned a high school state football title.

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Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.
Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

By Mike Kinney

A parade is being planned to celebrate the Pinole Valley High School football team’s historic championship season, Principal Kibby Kleiman said. School officials are considering holding the parade on Feb. 4, 2023, although an official date has not yet been confirmed.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

The parade will start at the Pinole Valley Park and will proceed to the Pinole Valley High School football field. The high school’s marching band, cheerleading squad and color guard will participate, along with clubs and service organizations connected to the school.

“It will almost be like a mini homecoming event,” Kleiman said.

The Spartans football team captured its first ever state title last fall, defeating Mendota High 34-21 in the Division 7-AA California State Championship. The victory marks the first time a West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school has earned a high school state football title.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

The Spartans earned their bid to play in the state championship after defeating Justin-Siena (Napa) 7-0 on Nov. 25, 2022, capturing their first North Coast Section title in 43 years.

Kleiman noted the team will also be recognized in a ceremony at Pinole City Council in February.

“We could not be prouder of the level of support coming from the community and the school,” he said. “It is wonderful to feel valued and honored. We are extremely proud of our Spartan football team!”

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Bay Area

City Council Committee Hears Report on Economic Impact of Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Proposal

Outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administrative team argues that an economic analysis of the impact of the Oakland A’s $20 billion real estate development at the Port of Oakland is impossible to analyze until behind-closed-door negotiations between City staff and A’s owner John Fisher’s team are completed, and there is a final deal.

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John Fisher, Oakland A’s owner and real estate developer
John Fisher, Oakland A’s owner and real estate developer

Report says A’s proposal “underestimates” costs and “overestimates” revenue projections

By Post Staff

Dr. Nola Agha, a nationally recognized sports economist and University of San Francisco professor of Sport Management, this week presented findings of her study on the revenues, costs, and economic impacts of the A’s proposed development at Howard Terminal to the Oakland City Council’s Community & Economic Development (CED) Committee.

Agha’s independent study was commissioned when the city failed to provide the independent economic analysis of the project’s proposed development agreement and financing framework requested by City Council in April.

Agha’s report at Tuesday’s CED meeting was based on information about the proposal available to the public, provided by the Oakland A’s, Oakland City Administrator Ed Reiskin, and the City Council’s July 2021 non-binding term sheet, and includes updated projections based on the current economic forecast.

Outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administrative team argues that an economic analysis of the impact of the Oakland A’s $20 billion real estate development at the Port of Oakland is impossible to analyze until behind-closed-door negotiations between City staff and A’s owner John Fisher’s team are completed, and there is a final deal.

The danger, however, is that once a final deal is completed, there would likely be a rush to pass it without looking at the details and economic analysis behind it.

The report was commissioned by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which has significant concerns about the impact the proposed project would have on the survivability of the Oakland Port.

The report focused on three primary concerns with the A’ proposal:

  • Revenue projections are overestimated;
  • Direct cost projections are underestimated;
  • Indirect, unanticipated, and often inconspicuous costs have not been accounted for.

Summarizing her findings,  Agha said, “Both the team and the City have made a lot of assumptions in designing the financing framework for this project, all of which put the City and taxpayers at greater risk down the line.

“A close look at the available information reveals that the project requires a historically large and growing public subsidy to be financially feasible. Publicly funded stadiums typically don’t pay off, and this one is unlikely to be any different.”

To read the full report, go to: https://assets.nationbuilder.com/oaklandstadiumalliance/pages/109/attachments/original/1664404798/Evaluation_of_the_revenues_costs_and_impacts_of_Howard_Terminal_-_Sept_21_2022.pdf?1664404798

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Jack Nicklaus Once Again Surprises Military Veterans with a Golf Lesson in Honor of Veterans Day and the PGA National Day of HOPE

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The PGA of America reaches out to Veterans, they reach out to all different people,” explained Jack Nicklaus, who is the only sportsman and just the fourth person in history to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and the Lincoln Medal (2018). “It is a great organization. PGA HOPE is impactful on its own, but they also collaborate with other organizations, such as partnering with Folds of Honor for Patriot Golf Days.

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Jack Nicklaus coaches PGA HOPE Veteran, Homer Watts, during the Jack Nicklaus PGA HOPE Veterans Lessons at the Bear’s Club on November 7, 2022 in Jupiter, FL. (Photo by Sarah Kenney/PGA of America)
Jack Nicklaus coaches PGA HOPE Veteran, Homer Watts, during the Jack Nicklaus PGA HOPE Veterans Lessons at the Bear’s Club on November 7, 2022 in Jupiter, FL. (Photo by Sarah Kenney/PGA of America)

Special to NNPA Newswire

Imagine being invited to play a round of golf at Jack Nicklaus’ Florida home club and getting a surprise lesson from none other than the 18-time major champion himself.

For the third straight year, Nicklaus gave some hometown military heroes who participate in the South Florida PGA Section PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program a memory for a lifetime at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida.

In celebration of both Veterans Day and the PGA National Day of HOPE, Nicklaus thanked the playing group of Veterans for their service and shared instructional tips, before inviting them out as his guests for a day on the championship golf course that he designed and is played regularly by up to 30 PGA TOUR pros who are members.

As the military pillar of PGA REACH, PGA HOPE is designed to introduce golf to Veterans and Active-Duty Military to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.

PGA REACH and PGA HOPE aspire to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community through a six- to eight-week curriculum led by PGA Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency.

U.S. Army Veteran First Lt. (Ret.) Robert Truckenmiller received a Purple Heart after being shot in the Vietnam War.

Other than hearing from other Veterans from time to time, he said that when he got a call from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inviting him to take part in the PGA HOPE program, it was the first real “welcome home” feeling he ever received for his service.

“The PGA of America reaches out to Veterans, they reach out to all different people,” explained Nicklaus, who is the only sportsman and just the fourth person in history to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and the Lincoln Medal (2018).

“It is a great organization. PGA HOPE is impactful on its own, but they also collaborate with other organizations, such as partnering with Folds of Honor for Patriot Golf Days.

“I have great admiration and respect for the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country’s freedom, and try to get behind efforts to help our Veterans, as well as their families. For me to do my little part—even to a small group—I am delighted to do so, especially for the PGA HOPE program.”

PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the VA, which enables Recreational Therapists to refer Veterans to PGA HOPE as a form of therapy.

Truckenmiller was quite surprised when Nicklaus stepped out on the driving range.

“I’m a little bit awestruck,” said Truckenmiller.

“He’s probably the best golfer ever, and he was most gracious. He helped me with my putting, on lining my ball up, and to stop moving my head. He told me to stare at it when I hit it.

“I lost my wife of 54 years three months ago. This is a remedy for some of the loneliness.”

U.S. Air Force Sgt. (Ret.) Pamela Carter, of Wellington, Florida, lost her brother, Bruce, in the Vietnam War. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, and the VA Medical Center in Miami is named after him.

When Nicklaus approached Pamela and gave her a lesson, she quickly reached in her pocket and handed him a challenge coin with her brother’s photo on it.

“I was just shocked he was here,” said Carter. “I stumbled on PGA HOPE and signed up for it. Meeting true war heroes who are now being respected puts a new spin on it. PGA HOPE reaches out and makes us feel welcome.”

U.S. Army/Air Force Reserves Sgt. (Ret.) Homer Watts Jr. had the thrill of a lifetime.

“Oh my goodness,” Watts said. “He’s a legend. It was a total shock. I was very surprised. PGA HOPE is such an amazing program. It gets people out of the hospital and into other activities. You meet great instructors who take their time with you. It’s almost like family. Actually, it’s just like family.”

Joining them for instruction and the round of golf was 2022 South Florida PGA Section Patriot Award recipient Jerry Impellittiere, PGA Director of Instruction at Monarch Country Club in Palm City.

Impellittiere originally learned the game from PGA Professionals at West Point Golf Course and now pays it forward by teaching two PGA HOPE Programs.

He is known as “The Collector,” as he collects donated golf clubs to give to Veterans for them to learn and play the game. Ironically, Impellittiere once played in a grouping with Nicklaus and Dave Stockton at the B.C. Open, two players renowned for their putting.

“I didn’t make the cut, but I led the PGA TOUR in putting stats that year,” said Impellittiere.

Nicklaus has a long-held fondness for the nation’s military and the incredible sacrifices made by service members.

“These people have earned the help of all Americans,” said Nicklaus. “I enjoy doing this. I want to be a part of it, especially if it makes a difference. I am very honored.”

This year, PGA HOPE aims to impact the lives of over 7,500 Veterans through its transformational program led by PGA Professionals, and has set a goal of 36,000 annually by 2026.

In its sixth year, PGA National Day of HOPE is a month-long campaign running through Veterans Day. The campaign celebrates our nation’s heroes who protect our freedom, while raising awareness and support for PGA HOPE.

To support the 2022 National Day of HOPE Campaign, please visit the Official Fundraising Page.

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