Thanks for the great history and info BB and Wizard. Good stuff!!
Not a problem. Let me throw out a couple more for you and I will apologize in advance for bouncing around here. The original plan was to implode the grandstand and clubhouse and just bulldoze the barns, paddock, etc.
An inspection of the grandstand and clubhouse found some asbestos and also oil, believed to be contaminated, seeping from the old electric generator room in the heart of the building. It was just enough to locals involved to stop the implosion. So in the end, they had to strip down the entire interior of the grandstand and clubhouse down to the beams and support poles.
Now before I go on, go back to what I had first said about them just closing the doors and walking out after the last race card ... well, eventhough some of us got in and took things from the old press room and other areas, there was still a ton of stuff remaining there ... and I mean a TON of stuff. If you think you see a lot of Roosevelt Raceway items on E-Bay, that is just a tiny percentage of what was really there.
Here is where the sport caught a huge break. Before they got to work stripping the place down, the demolition crew recognized what was left behind and the historical importance. They contacted the people who owned the property at that point. Needless to say, they wanted no part of it cause they were sitting on a $2 Billion piece of real estate that they were waiting to build on.
I am not 100% sure of how it went down but my understanding is there were people on the demolition crew who had some connection to Roosevelt Raceway and they either contacted the USTA or somebody well connected to harness racing and told them what they had.
Whoever they got in touch with, and I apologize for not being able to give him or her proper credit, got out to Roosevelt Raceway to look at it. In the end, a deal got worked out between the owners, the demolition crew and whoever it was that went out that they would get two days to clear out as much stuff as they could.
So as the story was told to me, much of what the USTA has from their Roosevelt Raceway project came about from that.
Now advance ahead ... unfortunately, not even the once mighty Roosevelt Raceway could withstand the wrecking ball. When the final piece of the grandstand fell, there was the natural pile of rubble but the old race track had one final surprise for everybody.
In the middle of all that rubble was an old gas line that was missed but which got ruptured when the last piece of the grandstand fell. There wasnt any explosion or anything like that. The rubble just burned in a bright but controlled ball of flames.
Now this was before the slot machine laws were passed and I could help remember that with Yonkers near closing that somwhow Roosevelt Raceway reduced to burning rubble was a fitting end to harness racing in the area.