NYRA Planning Changes For Three Tracks, Including Short-Term Upgrades To Aqueduct
NYRA recently announced $8.5M in upgrades "to be spread across its three properties," including a $6M "brush-up" to Aqueduct Racetrack that was scheduled to be completed this past weekend, according to Pia Catton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The initiative is "aimed at enhancing the guest experience" at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course and includes "things like new seating, picnic tables and video boards," as well as more than 800 HDTVs. But critics have said that the improvements "are too long overdue -- and too incremental." BodyArmor Chair and horse owner Mike Repole said, "I think $6 million is maybe one-tenth what they should be spending. It's not even close to being enough." NYRA is "in the process of crafting a master plan for its properties that is due" to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by April '15. One option on the table is "privatizing the tracks." In the meantime, NYRA is "trying a series of short-term changes as it works on the long-term plan." Much of the work is "centering on making the Belmont Stakes Day, June 7, a splashier event with high-profile entertainment, more food and beverage options at the clubhouse and a more lucrative race day to lure top-caliber horses." NYRA President Christopher Kay said, "Once we're finished with the 2013-2014 season, we'll probably make some changes. We're trying to collect more data and evaluate it and make decisions" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/5).