The owners of Cheltenham Racecourse plan to raise £15M ($22M) toward the cost of a new grandstand "by selling horse racing fans a bond offering rewards including discounts on tickets," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The Jockey Club, which owns the track in western England, is planning to spend £45M ($68M) on improvements for Cheltenham, "adding a new grandstand and more luxurious royal box" by '16. Billed as "the first retail bond in British sport," racegoers will be asked to invest anything from £2,000 ($3,051) to £100,000 ($152,590) for a five-year term. The bond will give a return of 4.75% gross in cash, plus a further 3% in points, "which can be used to pay online for tickets, hospitality packages or food and drinks at the Jockey Club's 15 British race courses" (REUTERS, 4/24).
SUNNY OUTLOOK: In London, Nathalie Thomas wrote the Jockey Club said that record crowds last year at meets such as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National pushed turnover through the £150M ($228M) mark, "despite tough competition from other sporting events, including the Olympics." Turnover grew 8% to a record £150.3M ($229.4M) while operating profit also edged up 3% to £19.8M ($30.2M). The group "does not release pre-tax figures." Jockey Club CEO Simon Bazalgette said that "he was confident of further growth this year as the major events continue to draw in large crowds" (TELEGRAPH, 4/24). Also in London, James Moore wrote the club's results "were turned in despite hosting 29 fewer fixtures, largely because of adverse weather." This resulted in 26 meetings being canceled and "lower crowds at some of those which did go ahead." The organization also pumped £16.5M ($25.19M) "into prize money" (INDEPENDENT, 4/24).