Infield At Preakness Stakes Has Transformed From Frat Party To Upscale Music Festival
Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas said that the Preakness Stakes infield is "as popular as it's been in decades, with 'Infieldfest' ticket sales up 9 percent compared with this point last year," according to Wesley Case of the Baltimore SUN. Chuckas and others "credit the success to changing the infield's culture from free-for-all drink-a-thon to something resembling an outdoor music festival with of-the-moment talent." Back in '08, the Preakness infield was infamous for "passed-out partiers, the chucking of full beer cans into crowds and of course, the 'Running of the Urinals,'" where drunken infielders ran down a row of portable toilets. For Preakness organizers, it was "the tipping point." Chuckas said, "It's still the people's party, but it's a different kind of party." Besides attendance increasing, Chuckas has noticed a "demographic shift in the infield" since '09. He said that it has "changed from a college-aged group that 'basically didn't want to spend any money' to a slightly older crowd he describes as 'upscale.'" The tamer infield also "meant fewer arrests." Baltimore Police Dept. Dir of Public Affairs Anthony Guglielmi last year said the Preakness was "a much classier event." He reported that "one person was arrested and nine were ejected, primarily for excessive drinking and disorderly conduct." In '08, "126 people were ejected and six were arrested." Now, the "music has become such a draw that the Maryland Jockey Club doesn't market the event with controversial slogans or mascots." Chuckas said, "The brand is beginning to carry the event by itself" (Baltimore SUN, 5/14).