The Maryland Jockey Club is expecting to increase the attendance at this year’s Preakness to around 110,000 by bringing in two major musical acts to the infield.
The jockey club announced Monday that singer Bruno Mars and adult contemporary band Train will headline the Preakness InfieldFest May 21. Both bands will play on the main stage, and are an added kick of star power to the horse racing event.
“For $40, people are seeing two first-class acts like this,” said Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas. “Because 2010 had significant momentum, we’ve taken a whole different approach.”
Starting in 2009, Preakness officials began booking musical acts for the day-long festival while banning alcohol and other beverages from being brought by patrons into the infield. The new festival and rule had hurt attendance that year, when about 80,000 people came, Chuckas said. But attendance came back last year to about 96,000 he said. Headliners in the past included O.A.R., Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top and Buckcherry.
Chuckas and Preakness organizers worked with I.M.P. chairman and Virgin Mobile Festival producer Seth Hurwitz to nab the top acts.
Last year, organizers started a “Mug Club,” with designated areas that gave the public unlimited refills of beer for an additional $20.
“We took some hits, but it was the right thing to do,” Chuckas said. “With the Zac Brown Band and the Mug Club last year, it started to turn around. The message was maybe not in 2011, but 2012 I think we’ll be back to where we were.”
There will be a second stage that will feature band Puddle of Mudd, country singer Phil Vassar and regional rock band Mr. Greengenes.
Organizers will again offer a beer garden serving $2 draft beer from 8 a.m. to noon. The infield will also feature a professional volleyball doubles tournament, a bean bag toss tournament, an oxygen bar area, carnival games, a wagering education tent and 25 food vendors.
Infield tickets are $40 in advance and $50 starting May 16. For an additional $20, visitors can buy a Mug Club ticket and receive a souvenir mug.