Wide array of capital improvements awaits guests at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack in 2014
By Eric Wing | 03/05/2014 11:12 AM ET
At today's regularly scheduled meeting of The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Reorganization Board in New York City, NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay outlined a series of enhancements at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack designed to improve the on-track guest experience at all three facilities.
The guest-experience-related enhancements were identified based on feedback from guests as well as internal assessments of each facility. The vast majority of the improvements will have been completed prior to the next opening day of each racetrack.
"We want our guests to have a great experience when they visit any of our three racing venues," said Kay. "The actions we are taking are intended to improve that experience for all of our loyal fans and bettors."
The guest-focused capital improvements at the three facilities include:
High Definition (HD) televisions: A total of 131 new HD televisions will be installed throughout all four levels of the facility prior to Belmont's 2014 opening day on May 1. New HD screens (or self-service wagering terminals) will also be installed in second-floor box seats for improved viewing of live and simulcast racing. Including the 524 new HD televisions that have been added in the last few years, a total of 655 new HD TVs will have been installed.
Belmont Café: This dining and wagering area, open all year, on the first floor of the clubhouse will be modernized with new tables and chairs and other enhancements.
Backyard music stage: The popular backyard area will feature a new stage for concerts and other events during live race meets.
Paddock concession stand: A new concession stand will be constructed adjacent to Belmont's world-renowned paddock offering food and beverages and a patio seating area. (Expected time of completion: Fall 2014)
Paddock video board: A new 8' by 15' video display wall will be installed by the paddock walking ring offering guests throughout the paddock area enhanced, HD picture quality.
Top of the Stretch picnic area: The popular trackside area will be expanded with two additional sections affording guests the opportunity to picnic all afternoon long and watch the races up close.
Saratoga Race Course
HD televisions: Approximately 750 new HD televisions, ranging in size from 19"-70", will be installed throughout the facility. Some 500 of the new TVs will be placed in the popular backyard area and in exterior grounds near the grandstand and clubhouse. The other 250 televisions will be installed within the interior of the grandstand/clubhouse, including all dining, bar and mutuel areas. Clubhouse box seats will also be equipped with new HD televisions.
Sound system: An enhanced sound system will allow for improved transmission of race calls, announcements, video programming and winner's circle events.
Picnic tables: An additional 125 picnic tables will be added in selected areas of the backyard area. Available to all guests at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis, the tables have become very popular party settings for families and friends during live racing.
Video walls: Large new video walls will be installed in three highly-populated grandstand areas - the paddock, the outdoor mutuel bay, and near the Carousel Restaurant - for enhanced, HD video display of races and other information.
Trakus: The high-tech system that enables television viewers to easily track their horse's position throughout a race will be launched at Saratoga in 2014.
Event Tent: Home to a number of events including fashion shows, international day celebrations, Taste of NY and other vendors, the Event Tent will be expanded to 40' by 70' and feature improved flooring and electricity.
Child-friendly entertainment: In addition to the many family fun activities, the highly popular playground area will be expanded so that kids have more room to play on the various pieces of equipment. Separately, the backyard will have a dedicated area where children can visit with and touch one of Saratoga's outrider horses and learn about a horse's daily routines and activities.
Wi-Fi: After monitoring areas of high density Wi-Fi usage on-track last year, capacity in high volume areas will be quadrupled this year in order to improve service and minimize connectivity delays.
Restrooms: Saratoga restrooms will receive a number of upgrades, including new fixtures, mirrors, paint and more.
Outdoor dining: The popular Saratoga Porch dining area, open for breakfast and lunch, will be expanded to provide more tables offering a close-up view of the races.
Longshots: This new, state-of-the-art simulcasting center offering a variety of food and beverage options is under construction and expected to open next month.
Infield video boards: Installed last November, the large, HD monitors offer improved viewing of races and other information by those watching from outdoors or from inside the building.
HD televisions and cameras: New television cameras were purchased enabling Aqueduct to shoot and transmit video in HD, and new HD televisions were installed throughout the building's interior, with more to come later in 2014.
Trakus: The high-tech system that enables television viewers to easily track their horse's position throughout a race was launched in November 2013.
Interior seating: Modern, airport-style seating will be installed on the second floor later in 2014.
Lighting: Interior and exterior lighting has been enhanced throughout the facility and outside areas, including in parking areas.
Flooring: New carpeting and other flooring materials have been installed with additional upgrades to be made at the conclusion of the current Aqueduct race meet.
Painting: Extensive painting has been performed throughout the facility's interior and this will continue throughout the year.
Infield landscaping: A host of upgrades to the Aqueduct infield have been made including the refurbishment/reconstruction of a pond and new fountain along with additional landscaping. These improvements will become more apparent once warmer temperatures arrive.
Aqueduct Murals: Unveiled last November, this highly publicized and acclaimed project features the work of 13 internationally renowned street artists on the walls of Aqueduct's first floor. An on-track extension of the Aqueduct Murals project is planned for later in 2014.