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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NYRA Looks Ahead, and NOT Back

NYRA is either REALLY excited about Aqueduct opening.  Or, they REALLY don't want you to think about the Belmont fall meet just concluded.  Twice in the last two days, I've received press releases in my inbox about the opening of the Big A, and the $14 million in recent capital investment by the New York Racing Association designed to further enhance the guest experience and improve the quality of racing.  (That expenditure comes out of the 4% of VLT revenues that are specifically earmarked for maintaining and upgrading the tracks....some $21.5 million for the first eight months of 2014; $31.5 million in 2013.)  Tuesday's email was a MEDIA ADVISORY, a notation that is normally reserved for announcing board meetings or significant news developments.

As for Belmont?  No sign of the usual end-of-meet release that details attendance and handle figures, along with the comparisons to the prior relevant meeting.  Now, perhaps I'm wrong, as these press releases are not something that I go out of my way to save.....and the search engine for press releases on the NYRA site is lacking, at best.  But I recall that such announcements always and immediately follow the end of a race meet, whether the news is good or bad.  Here's a negative report from the fall meeting of 2009.  And here's a really bad one from the 2010 Saratoga meeting that was spun to highlight the good parts.

But NYRA apparently, at least as of this writing, is not even trying to spin this Belmont meet.  They've just ignored it, thus far.  It's Breeders' Cup week, so Grening is otherwise occupied, and not around to ask them what's up.  And even if I'm wrong, and past NYRA regimes have ignored unfavorable results, I thought this is supposed to be the new "transparent" NYRA?  Seems to me that they're about as transparent as the Rock of Gibraltar.

Well, at least in today's press release, as opposed to the one on Monday, the Longshots simulcast facility at Aqueduct is discussed.  Don't know if that was just an oversight.  In any event, what we're not told is that NYRA raised the admission price by $5 since the last time we were at the Big A, to $10/$5 for non-NYRA Rewards members/members.

And perhaps you were considering spending your Breeders' Cup day at Longshots?  That'll cost you $40 if you're not a NYRA Rewards member.....$20 if you are.  NYRA continues to try and achieve the so-called "profitability without slots" by nickel-and-diming its customers.  Though I guess $40 to get into Longshots goes well beyond that characterization.  I'll be interested to see if maybe they've gone a little too far in this case.  But I won't be there to see for myself.

Having said that, it's good - and rather surprising - to see that NYRA is making an effort to upgrade a track that it probably intends to close at some point in the next few years.  I'd noted some of the improvements that I saw in progress when I was there over the summer.  In addition, according to the release, there are new video boards in the infield, new TVs throughout the plant, and that "airport style" seating to replace "more than 450 bucket seats at Aqueduct, many of which dated back more than 50 years."  I might miss those, some of them have my name on it.  Also, and curiously in my opinion, improvements to the infield, with a new fountain, sod, and shrubs, to "improve the external look of the racetrack."  Hmm.  Must be Chris Kay's inner green self from his Trust for Public Land days!  You can read the complete release with all of the improvements here.


Anonymous said...

Wow!, newyorker are getting screwed.

ljk said...

Haven't been to AQU In 20 years but am in an airport every week. Airport style seating is an upgrade?

Best job in NY? TV salesman to NYRA.

Steve Zorn said...

No Belmont stats, but NYRA does have to put up the 4th quarter and full-year 2014 results sometime. Wish Kay would put as much effort into defending the track's and horsemen's share of slots revenue as he does to defending his bonus.

jk said...

They could not cook the Belmont books with season pass sales as was done in Saratoga.

What has been the impact on attendance from raising parking and admission prices? A simple question which should be answered.

Sadly the CEO is awarded a big bonus for this behavior. The Emperor(s) have no clothes.

Dan said...

Personally I believe AQU will be racing for the next 5 years. Belmont would need lots of $ to winterize. I don't see this happening anytime soon. I love the replacing 50 year old seats. Yikes....