The NYRA Reorganization Board unanimously approved the budget for 2014 that we previewed here yesterday. Not however without a caveat following a passionate debate on the admission and parking increases. (And I apologize, I was wrong yesterday about Belmont grandstand admission, which is currently $3.) To appease the opponents, Chairman David Skorton suggested that NYRA conduct some kind of "market research" on the increase before the next board meeting in March, and even Bobby Flay - who, at one point, helpfully declared that "whenever I need to raise prices in my restaurants, I just don't do it" - could see that was ridiculous.
Maybe I'm missing some point somewhere here, but I just can't imagine either of the following conversations ever happening: 1) Newbie: "I don't want to go to Belmont because $5 is too expensive to get in." (My nonbeliever friends can't believe the entry prices at the track are so low.) Or, 2) Regular racetrack customer: "I'm not going to Belmont anymore because it now costs an extra $2 to get in." (The parking admittedly is a wild card; currently free for general parking at Belmont, who knows what they're thinking; costs ten bucks to park at Del Mar, for example.) I could see perhaps less people forking over the additional three bucks to get into the clubhouse, but can't imagine any material effect on attendance, at least based on the admission increases alone.
Having said that, according to Teresa's aforelinkedto Bloodhorse piece, we're talking about trying to squeeze out an estimated measly $250,000. [Clarification/correction on this: Teresa tweets today: "Hike in fees of all kinds (admission/simulcast) meant to offset $1.8m deficit and carve out $250K surplus." So it is not an insignificant amount at all.] So Still, maybe it's just not worth the bad publicity. Already we have the habitual NYRA-basher Odato with the lede: "As the New York Racing Association planned to raise admission prices for live thoroughbred horse races, it awarded raises to some of its top officers," as if the two events literally coincided.
In any event, again, New York City is a city with zero off track betting facilities, and I'm completely perplexed as to why NYRA isn't pursuing the opportunity to operate an off track teletheater as it is permitted to by law. If they believe they can generate $9 million in additional handle at Longshots, I'd think a couple of well-placed snazzy off-track facilities in Manhattan could be a bonanza.
[Update: The Form's David Grening, who I'm sure was quite upset that he had to miss a day at Aqueduct to cover the board meeting, writes:
One thing that was not brought up at the meeting was NYRA’s previously stated desire to re-enter the New York City Off-Track Betting market by getting into bars and restaurants in the city. At previous board meetings, this was identified as a potentially important new revenue stream, but it was not broached in the 2014 budget.I'm sure Hayward had a plan, maybe they can get it from him.]
“We’re going to try and work on things for a while to get to a plan and then when we have a plan we can go to the right folks and see if we can get something done,” Kay said. “To be able to say on Dec. 4 this is going to happen sometime in 2014 is complete conjecture.”