Got a press release, from Genting's PR agency and forwarded by NYRA, in my email just after the opening of Resorts World on Friday stating that "tens of thousands of enthusiastic visitors" had descended upon the racino for the 1PM opening. I found that rather hard to believe....and, in fact, laughable, as I noted on my Twitter feed. Subsequent news reports however, indeed depict masses of humanity lined up for a mile just to get in.
The operators said 15,000 were inside by late afternoon and with 5,000 on line outside, they were suggesting that people postpone their first visit to the new Queens hot spot. [NY Daily News]So, while that initial assertion still seems a gross exaggeration at the time it was made, it's obvious that a lot of people either made it inside at some point during the day and night, or were turned away. Genting officials, supportive (and money-hungry) politicians, and the New York Racing Association will no doubt hail the throngs as a harbinger of great things to come. Indeed, we only have to wait until Jan 1 before the initial benefits to the local sport become apparent, in the form of the 36% purse increase that will no doubt lift the quality of the winter sport far above the pitiful doldrums of recent years. One can only imagine what the purses will be like at Saratoga next summer.
However, right now, I'm finding all this commotion over the slots parlor to be downright depressing. Here, we have this great game of horseracing that can barely attract a few thousand a day amongst the millions in the metropolitan area; but thousands vie for the opportunity to tether themselves to a video bandit and sit for hours amongst the droning cacophony of the machines (the modern day iteration of "Franklin...Franklin"), lost in their own virtual, mindless solitude. I feel as if all the complex challenges and intricate data puzzles that we so love about our game are the very things that work against its public acceptance in the 21st century.
And even more depressing is watching this video report on the NY1.com site. One woman on line says "When people retire, they need entertainment. And this is it, honey!" Really? This is it? I do try to not be judgmental or condescending (elitist, some might say). But after seeing and hearing from the Resorts World patrons in this video, I have to say one thing: Never again will I feel like a lowlife walking into the racetrack there.
Though, apparently, the condition of the racing side at the Big A will, at least for now, work against our feeling too superior. According to David Grening of the Form:
Racing fans who visit Aqueduct when that meet opens next Friday won’t be so impressed with their side of the building. Aside from opening once-enclosed mutuel bays on the second floor, the building is still very much run-down. [DRF]Now, I certainly didn't anticipate any major renovations at this time; NYRA had made it clear that it had other priorities, and it wouldn't even be reasonable for us to expect a major overhaul at this early stage. Charlie Hayward told the Form that "in a relatively short period of time – a year or two – the horseplayer will have a much better environment.” They'll be a new simulcast facility, a joint Genting-NYRA project, on the third floor which promises to be really cool.
However, it wouldn't have taken much in the way of money ("tens of thousands," maybe?) or effort to make the kind of minor and merely cosmetic improvements - some new indoor seating, a rug shampoo (or five), a fresh coat or two of paint - to make a huge difference. I mean, they've had six months to apply just a little tender loving care for those of us who support the sport during the bleak winter months. So, if I walk in there next weekend (if I can even get close to the place...will NYRA encourage us to wait a week?) and find that things are exactly as they were, I'm gonna be majorly pissed. And I just might vent about it here!