The Maryland Jockey Club has announced that it is redefining the Infield experience on Preakness day, May 21, 2011. Preakness InfieldFEST is a multi-entertainment festival that will include performances by Grammy Award winners Bruno Mars and Train. Both bands will play extended sets on the main stage in the public Infield on Saturday, May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. The Beer Garden Jägermeister Stage will also feature concerts by regional favorites, Mr. Greengenes, Phil Vassar and Puddle of Mudd.
The new Infield policy started in 2009 on alcohol and all beverages will be again be in effect for the 2011 Preakness, including the Infield’s Top of the Stretch seating area. Tickets for the public Infield will be $40 in advance or $50 on race day. There is also a "MUG Club" ticket which includes all you can drink beer for those 21 and older which is $60 in advance or $70 on race day. MUG Club tickets are limited and will give you a special souvenir mug which can be refilled at special filling stations. Please note that all beverage brands are subject to change. Based on consumption, some brands may not be available throughout the day. Top of the Stretch infield seating area is $130 or $140 for Top of the Stretch Mug Club, in advance or on race day. Along with the MUG Club option, the Beer Garden returns with $2 draft beer from 8 am - 12 noon.
As has been the policy the last 2 years, NO beverages of any kind (cans or bottles) will be allowed to be brought into the Infield. This included alcohol, soft drinks and water, forcing fans to purchase any beverages once they are inside the track. Coolers and backpacks, containing food, will be permitted in the Infield but coolers larger than 28"l x 15"w x 17"h as well as Thermoses and bulk oversized caryring devices will be prohibited. Beach blankets, suntan lotion, cellular phones, cameras (up to 35mm), camcorders, binoculars and lightweight plastic lawn chairs will still be allowed in the Infield. Top of the Stretch seats will be limited to coolers 12” x 12” x 12" or smaller. Full rules are available here.
As well, the infield will host the annual Bikini Contest, the Jagermeister Cornhole Tournament, the Oxygen Bar, the Great Pony Pig Out (competitive eating of apple pie, carrot cake, and oatmeal cookies), and the National Volleyball League Pro Tour. New for this year is the official infield mascot, Kegasus, half-man, half-Thoroughbred, all party manimal.
“We are looking to build on the momentum made in 2010,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “The Preakness Infield is a rite of passage in Baltimore. We have taken a multi-dimensional approach to create an unparalleled experience at InfieldFEST where fans can have all day fun listening to great music while enjoying constant action at Maryland’s most cherished and renowned sporting event. We worked through some of last year’s glitches. We did homework on our own and listened to feedback from customers to find a way to make this an even better experience.”
The MJC's vice-president of communications Mike Gathagan pointed out that the new policies are very similar to those used for the Virgin Mobile Music Festival which is also held at Pimlico. Baltimore City Fire Chief Kevin Cartwright said there have been too many injuries in the infield in the past so the alcohol restrictions should improve things, but was not happy with not allowing fans to bring in water, stating "It can be a health hazard. This could pose potential problems and may precipitate dehydration." Concert promoter Seth Hurwitz, who is promoting the music lineup, added, "The rest of the world doesn't let you cart in coolers of beer. I don't think this is something people aren't used to."
In the past, the Preakness Infield has been notorious as the wildest of the Triple Crown races with fans lugging in huge coolers of beer and getting extremely drunk and rowdy. The kids in the local neighborhood were disappointed last year as they always made some extra cash by pushing stolen grocery carts filled with beer for patrons walking from their cars to the Infield entrance. This also did put a stop to the "running of the urinals" on Preakness day which had been a "tradition" until 2008. It is worth noting that in 2008, 126 fans were ejected from the infield and 6 were arrested.