At The Nest on West Pratt Street – across from the Baltimore Convention Center where city and state officials announced that an IZOD IndyCar Series race would be held in Baltimore beginning in August 2011 – lunch patrons were curious, if not outright enthusiastic, that a major sporting event would be coming to downtown.
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As Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said in opening remarks, “You don’t win a race by reversing and going backward. You win a race by putting it in drive and giving it full throttle.”
Over crab cakes and house salad alfresco at The Nest (which overlooks the main straightaway of the circuit and start-finish line; think this will be a hotspot?), Daniel McLaughlin highlights the economic impact projected, the tens of thousands of spectators that will flock to the circuit that includes the scenic Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A fan, who watched flag to flag coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, McLaughlin sees it as a win-win for the city and the series.
“We have the Orioles, who aren’t that good right now, and the occasional soccer (friendly) match and NCAA lacrosse finals,” he says, “but we miss out on much more because a lot of sporting events like the Final Four go to Washington. Sure there are going to be some people upset when they resurface the streets, but it’s a long-term gain. Plus the streets will be paved.”
The Inner Harbor is a few blocks east – with the National Aquarium, numerous restaurants (former First Daughter Jenna Bush lives in the neighborhood) and nightlife options – will be bustling.
“I might have to volunteer for the weekend,” McLaughlin says. “Maybe I could be the guy holding the umbrella over Danica while she’s in the car.”