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Volume 21 No. 2
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To attract younger fans, Santa Anita restores old luxury

Santa Anita Park has completed a $15 million facelift covering multiple venues at the 79-year-old horse racing track.

The track plays host to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and the sport’s richest event drove the project as well as the need to upgrade spaces to attract the younger generation to Santa Anita, said Tom Ludt, senior vice president of racing and gaming for the Stronach Group, the track’s owner. It has been more than 10 years since portions of the track were renovated at a building that covers more than 1 million square feet of space under the roof, Ludt said.

Topping the project was the renovation of the Chandelier Room near the finish line.
The improvements, squeezed into a 13-week construction process, cover 68,500 square feet. Topping the project were renovations to the Chandelier Room, spanning two central rooms close to the finish line. An outdoor balcony was built at the top of the two existing staircases, facing the track and providing views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The room’s four chandeliers, 15 feet high and eight feet wide, were restored to their 1930s splendor and the original bar was kept intact to maintain the rooms’ vintage feel, said Randy Shelly, vice president of hospitality and sports venues for Shawmut Design and Construction, the project’s general contractor.

The largest space renovated was the inner mezzanine, a 350-foot-long room that serves as Santa Anita’s main betting hall. It was gutted and rebuilt with new concession stands, including a horseshoe-shaped bar, and more betting stations, said Walt Carucci, Shawmut’s project executive. The room also contains most of the 140 new high-definition televisions installed at the track as part of the renovations, Carucci said. Those TVs can be programmed and operated with iPads, he said.

The old Arcadia Suite, a VIP space on the far east side of the track, was remodeled and renamed the Eddie Logan Suite in honor of a shoeshine vendor who worked at Santa Anita for 75 years until his death in 2009. The suite was expanded with more outdoor seating.

In addition, the 750 owners boxes outdoors were renovated. Those seats take up about one-third of the stadium area at the facility, which has 70,000 seats.