For a brief period in late January, Baltimore and state officials quietly rejoiced after receiving a letter from the Volvo Ocean Race congratulating the city for being picked to host the only U.S. stopover of the global race in spring 2015.
And then days later — before today’s official announcement — race organizers yanked the prize away and gave it to Newport, R.I. The announcement is expected at 2:30 p.m. at the Rhode Island State House in Providence. The reason for the switch? Correspondence shows Baltimore refused to budge on a request from Volvo officials to move the Preakness Stakes from the week of May 11, 2015, or that Volvo be allowed to stage its event at the same time.
“We were shocked,” said Robert Housman, executive director of Ocean Racing USA, the Baltimore bidder. “It would be discouraging to work hard on something and lose, but clearly they moved the finish line. We won on the merits of our bid and that’s a fact.” Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, called the outcome “unfortunate. The city and state partners worked in good faith.” Volvo officials did not respond to a request for comment. Read on.