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Author Topic: One opening day figure...  (Read 3603 times)
BeauNarro
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« on: February 26, 2006, 11:44:26 AM »

One opening day figure that we heard of was very disappointing regarding the future of horse racing here in Illinois. I troubles us because we are horse owners and breeders. From what we heard the on track live handle for races bet on Hawthorne at the track was down 14% from opening day last year.
That can only mean one thing to us. There are not as many people going to Hawthorne.

Hawthorne Management...please..please make changes that will encourage more and new betters before you get in so deep that you can't climb out. You have been in existance since 1892 (114 years) and there are so many creative ways that you can employ to improve your product. Try to dig back into your past to re-gather some ideas that caused you to realize the profits and successes you once had - while looking forward for fan-friendly endevors to secure your future.

Although employees are important in any business - you need only those that can contribute sincere and qualified support towards your goal of attracting more fans to horse racing. Because you have several times throughout the year where you are "dark" you don't need extra bodies soaking up your already diminnishing bankroll.

Our hope is that Hawthorne is successful. We need you not only as business partners, but also as a great form of entertainment and excitement.
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2006, 11:56:13 AM »

If live handle was down 14%, and live handle was $228,000, that would mean they collected ~$6,400 less in commission to split up with the state and horsemen, compared to last year. Offset, or augmented, by whatever extra or decreased handle they saw from OTB's and interstate simulcast.

This is a subject we've been talking about a long time here, BeauNarro. What suggestions do you have for getting more people to the track in this day and age? What they used in 1934 doesn't necessarily work now, because there were no legal casinos, OTB's, or internet betting then.

I have noticed almost zero public notice or advertising for this Hawthorne meet, at least where I saw such in the past. Did people even know the track was opening Friday?
   
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2006, 12:04:27 PM »

     It looks like a great start for the new management team headed by Ed Duffy.
Perhaps Duffy might try to convert Hawthorne into a dual sports facility like he did at Sportsman's.
In any case, the new management team already looks way overmatched.
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big wally
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2006, 12:31:39 PM »

They Handled $204,000 ontrack Saturday. I thought is was a playable card. Hey Beau Narro Lets here some suggestions on why people should come to Stickney?  The board is waiting.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2006, 12:39:39 PM »

Not needing to venture back to 1934 (LOL) lets just look back to the last 25 years.  In the late 1970's to early 1980's the lottery started in Illinois which really affected the attendance. The first riverboats opened in 1992. That further affected local tracks attendance. However, Hawthorne until 2003 was only open for 4 months every year from October 14th to December 31st for thoroughbreds, and from January 1st to February 15th for harness double headers except for the year+ when NJC was closed for cartrack renovations and Dick D closed Arlington because he didn't get slots(1998-1999). The Carey family was able to pay dividends to the family members, while also being able to do 1 to 2 million in building/property upgrades each year and pay all of their bills twice a month. Sounds to me like they were cash strong. They NEVER cut the purses during a meet in all that time either(like they did last November).

Yer right Terry. I saw NO advertising in any newspaper nor on TV has they have done in the past. The only mailer that I received had a couple good coupons, but mostly advertised the new "buy-in" handicapping contests and I beleive there was one contest for Cicero residents only.

There are so many ideas we all have on BTW that this is old hat but:
1)Free admission(for certain areas) even parts of clubhouse
2)Free Hawthorne programs
3)Lower priced simulcast programs
4)More free parking closer to the building
5)Lower prices at bars and food stands(try to break even by using creativity) because it's more of a necessity than a profit center anyway.
6)different types of contests that take NO real skill..ie..Jimmy Miller walks through the partons between each and every race and selects 20 people in random. Each person picks who they think will win. All stay in group with Jim at the winners circle area with the camera rolling. After race if anyone picks the favorite and it wins they get a $5 voucher, if 3-1 to 10-1 wins those people get $10 voucher..if the highest odds horse picked wins that person gets $100 voucher. That's just one idea off the top of my head, but there are so many things that can be done to garner more interest. BUT they need to advertise the ideas out to the non betting public to inform them that it's really fun and exciting to come to the track.
7)Customer service, comfort and cleanliness. (already covered in previous posts)
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2006, 01:03:01 PM »

My first post, and maybe I shouldn't jump in here, but I was just drinking a cold frosty one the other day with a part-owner and had this same conversation.  How to get more people interested in horse racing?  The public seems to be moving to simplier wagering propositions - slot machines, bingo, keno(?).  Other then betting on horse's names during the big races (Derby through Belmont), the general public doesn't follow the sport.  

In other sports, the range of people who start to pay attention increases dramatically during the playoffs (NCAA, NFL, MLB).  What did NASCAR do to get so popular?

I'm not going to say that I fully understand the industry's current race class / horse class / "playoff" system.  I'm sure there's a logic to it for those who do.  But it might cause more people to follow along if there were was a "season" and a "playoff" that culminated with a champion that Joe-Don't-Know-Horses could understand and follow along in the newspaper.  NASCAR created the Winston Cup and its point system.  Interest peaks during the NCAA playoffs.  These things have to have spill over to spread of the market of people interested in these sports.  Maybe horse racing could consider creating something ultra-simple for folks to follow along over time and watch it conclude with champion.

Just a thought.  Thanks.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2006, 01:12:17 PM »

My first post, and maybe I shouldn't jump in here, but I was just drinking a cold frosty one the other day with a part-owner and had this same conversation.  How to get more people interested in horse racing?  The public seems to be moving to simplier wagering propositions - slot machines, bingo, keno(?).  Other then betting on horse's names during the big races (Derby through Belmont), the general public doesn't follow the sport.  

In other sports, the range of people who start to pay attention increases dramatically during the playoffs (NCAA, NFL, MLB).  What did NASCAR do to get so popular?

I'm not going to say that I fully understand the industry's current race class / horse class / "playoff" system.  I'm sure there's a logic to it for those who do.  But it might cause more people to follow along if there were was a "season" and a "playoff" that culminated with a champion that Joe-Don't-Know-Horses could understand and follow along in the newspaper.  NASCAR created the Winston Cup and its point system.  Interest peaks during the NCAA playoffs.  These things have to have spill over to spread of the market of people interested in these sports.  Maybe horse racing could consider creating something ultra-simple for folks to follow along over time and watch it conclude with champion.

Just a thought.  Thanks.

OTB Rat,

OH MY GAWD!! That is by far the best idea I have ever heard of. Yer a genius. The tracks could have 1 or 2 races every few days slowly throughout a few months weeding out the non contenders, then playoff series, and finally a championship..BRILLIANT post!
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edwarren
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2006, 01:30:50 PM »

Just talking to ordinary everyday non-gambling types, the city of Cicero has a bad reputation. I'm talking about people West of Cicero. I don't think Chicagoans feel that way. Anyway they think it's a slum, and they don't want to go there. Many, like youngsters, haven't even heard of Hawthorne Race Track and they're too busy wanting to be lawyers, some I've talked to, God forbid, and most are bustouts anyway, can't pay for school and can't make the rent.

Also, horse racing gets zero press in Northern Illinois. Local news no longer describes a race's conditions, highlight the owners, or programs the finish line. Many local papers outside of Cook County are run and owned by, literaly, Calvinist Puritans, I know this because I've lived in small towns, media managed and run by those who live on the hill. And, Northern Illinois, in case you haven't heard is, except for Crook County, VERY conservative. (Support our Corporate CEO's.)

When I get my shit together, I'll be at the track more often, like when I become a lawyer.
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big wally
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2006, 02:16:02 PM »

Not needing to venture back to 1934 (LOL) lets just look back to the last 25 years.  In the late 1970's to early 1980's the lottery started in Illinois which really affected the attendance. The first riverboats opened in 1992. That further affected local tracks attendance. However, Hawthorne until 2003 was only open for 4 months every year from October 14th to December 31st for thoroughbreds, and from January 1st to February 15th for harness double headers except for the year+ when NJC was closed for cartrack renovations and Dick D closed Arlington because he didn't get slots(1998-1999). The Carey family was able to pay dividends to the family members, while also being able to do 1 to 2 million in building/property upgrades each year and pay all of their bills twice a month. Sounds to me like they were cash strong. They NEVER cut the purses during a meet in all that time either(like they did last November).




There are so many ideas we all have on BTW that this is old hat but:
1)Free admission(for certain areas) even parts of clubhouse
2)Free Hawthorne programs
3)Lower priced simulcast programs
4)More free parking closer to the building
5)Lower prices at bars and food stands(try to break even by using creativity) because it's more of a necessity than a profit center anyway.
6)different types of contests that take NO real skill..ie..Jimmy Miller walks through the partons between each and every race and selects 20 people in random. Each person picks who they think will win. All stay in group with Jim at the winners circle area with the camera rolling. After race if anyone picks the favorite and it wins they get a $5 voucher, if 3-1 to 10-1 wins those people get $10 voucher..if the highest odds horse picked wins that person gets $100 voucher. That's just one idea off the top of my head, but there are so many things that can be done to garner more interest. BUT they need to advertise the ideas out to the non betting public to inform them that it's really fun and exciting to come to the track.
7)Customer service, comfort and cleanliness. (already covered in previous posts)


I dont know of one person who does not go to the track because of reason 1 to 5. The internet killed and rebates killed the on track and off-track fan base. Diferent ballgame my friend. Tracks can not compete.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2006, 02:18:06 PM by big wally » Report to moderator   Logged
edwarren
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2006, 02:26:34 PM »

I agree, but not entirely. As for me, I suppose I merely went with the flow, but due to really poor planning, I now live 100 miles from the track. I am looking forward to when I can spend more time trackside, even if it's in Mexico.

There are forces within racing that want less competition, or at least to substantially alter the character of racing. Simplistically, it's the old wall street vs. Main Street argument.

Many years ago, the canadian, E.P. taylor, forced many tracks into bankruptcy or bought them out and closed them. At least this is my impression from the little I've read about the man and his time.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2006, 03:08:04 PM by edwarren » Report to moderator   Logged
Ed
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2006, 03:57:50 PM »

Repeat after me. Don't worry slots will fix everthing.
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edwarren
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2006, 04:04:21 PM »

Do you know what ONYA is?

Re: Slots:

Maybe, at first, but repeat after me, they want that money and that means you won't get any onya.

Here's your new mantra:
Things are going to change SUBSTANTIALLY and in ways I cannot even imagine, because I am an idiot.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2006, 04:53:42 PM »

Don't put yerself down Ed..you're not an idiot...LOL
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APCD Dan
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2006, 06:09:12 PM »

On-track attendance and betting have become the number one topic of serious racing boards.  As to any horse racing playoffs, the horses just do not stay healthy anymore and may not be around for the championships.  Just look at the run for the Triple Cup.  Also, owners and trainers looking at the bottom line seem to want to avoid competition and go where they have an advantage in winning a race.

I have no real answer to the problem.  Beside competition from other forms of gambling, horse racing has a real image problem these days.  While the casino is a glamorous place to be, the track and its patrons are looked at like a leper colony.  In other words, something to avoid and ignore.  Somehow the overall experience of a day at the track must be sold or racing will become a studio produced, online betting activity only.
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2006, 08:06:05 PM »

Repeat after me. Don't worry slots will fix everthing.

That goes without saying, everything will be fixed, and horseplayers will suddenly materialize from thin air to flock to the tracks to bet the quality horses that will also materialize from thin air, and they (the new players, not the new horses) will shove $billions in parimutuel handle through the windows, and it will be a grand and glorious renaissance of horse racing, when everyone will wear hats and crowd the $50 windows and stand in line with their well-dressed paramour to dine at the Gold Cup Room, just like in the old days, so staggeringly awesome is the power of slots. But we were just noodling around other ideas, on the slim chance the tracks don't get slots.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2006, 08:23:31 PM »

We can all forget about slots until Blago gets voted out, and then we still might not get them. I'm not holding my breath..
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2006, 09:31:40 PM »

I am a youngster, having been on this earth for a mere quarter century.

I have also spent a bit of time living in northern California, where entrance and parking fees are exorbitant, to say the least. On a dark day, you must still pay $6 to get in the place. I must admit, this kept me away and served as an impetus towards my obtaining a BRISbet account. However, Friday nights at Bay Meadows, even with the $4 parking and $4 admission, were a blast. The place was packed. I grew up at AP, Haw and Spt, and I've probably seen more people between the ages of 18 and 30 in one Friday night at Bay Meadows than 18 years of Chicago daytime racing. This seems to me a very important fact--young people "do things" at night!

Additionally, who knows Hawthorne is even running? What kind of advertising is there? Also, who wants to go to Cicero/Stickney? Only those people who are interested in one of two things--betting on horses or the nostalgia/retro/cultural study thing would actually want to go to this place.

So, having said all this, it seems the way to attract crowds is to attract young people; young people will pay entrance fees if there's a reason for going--if it's a thing to do on a weekend evening. People who have any sense, however, won't pay such a large entrance fee if there's no reason to (look at the numbers at BM or GG during the week). In any case, one needs to get the word out, because the 70-year-olds--despite the respect I may or may not have for you on an individual basis--are not going to contribute much to a record-breaking handle.
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2006, 09:37:10 PM »

Also, who wants to go to Cicero/Stickney? Only those people who are interested in one of two things--betting on horses or the nostalgia/retro/cultural study thing would actually want to go to this place.

When they used to put on concerts of meaningful bands there a few years back, they got very good crowds. Especially for some of the country acts. The concert crowds didn't seem to care it was Stickney.
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2006, 09:38:15 PM »

Arlington does do thier party in the park thing on Fridays twilight card, t-breds can't run at night in Illinois as that is reserved for Harness.

The funny thing about Arlington's party in the park Fridays is that the crowd it gets in the Party area seems to be growing older (which is fine by me - as I am growing older with it - but I think they aren't getting the younger set) - it seems like when it started back in what 91, there were alot of people in their 20's out there - now it seems like it is an older crowd closer to 40ish - I think that is due to the type of music that they book - they all seem not to be geared towards the 20's crowd.
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« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2006, 09:44:19 PM »

Yeah, most 20-year-olds aren't interested in seeing Journey-type rock; unless of course it is in the spirit of "irony," in which case it'd be better to have these ironic yuppie-ish crowds going to Stickney than Arlington Heights.

But the fact that one has to have concerts to attract people--the horse racing becomes secondary, peripheral... this is sad, and this is probably not the best way to increasing fan base. Real fans will be those there for the sport, not the reunion shows.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2006, 09:54:01 PM »

Yeah but the concerts are fun to watch though. At Hawthorne they bet alot, but more than that they spend tens of thousands on food, refreshments and liquor. I'm not so sure the people came back to bet after the concert day though.
Other than the Peter Frampton concert in 1977(?) in the infield, do you remember the first concert held in the 2nd floor clubhouse? It was a country singer. He was 21 years old. He had a number 1 album, and won the country music award that year 1997(?). There were 6,500 fans packed up there...mostly teenie bopper girls. It was a great concert.
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2006, 10:04:46 PM »

Did it increase handle?

Who cares if someone pays $2 for a hot dog; management probably prefers $2 bet on 9 races, and a player hooked on the game who will continue this trend.

I was at GP about a month ago for a week. After paying $10 for 3 shrimp I decided to take my lunch at the Sage delicatessen or at my residence before going to the track for the day.

Something nice about BM Friday's was the $1 beers. Maybe I am a miserly and stingy fellow, but I prefer not to pay excessive, even bewildering amounts for food and drink for the sake of "convenience." I mean, what's the point of a $3-4 hot dog? It's comprised of lips and... well, you know.
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BeauNarro
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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2006, 10:07:11 PM »

Arlington does do thier party in the park thing on Fridays twilight card, t-breds can't run at night in Illinois as that is reserved for Harness.

The funny thing about Arlington's party in the park Fridays is that the crowd it gets in the Party area seems to be growing older (which is fine by me - as I am growing older with it - but I think they aren't getting the younger set) - it seems like when it started back in what 91, there were alot of people in their 20's out there - now it seems like it is an older crowd closer to 40ish - I think that is due to the type of music that they book - they all seem not to be geared towards the 20's crowd.

David, is it true that Arlington allows picnic baskets and "outside" refreshments in the park area? Someone told me they do. That's probably a great draw too.
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« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2006, 10:09:49 PM »

BYOB is the best possible draw ANY establishment can have.
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David
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« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2006, 10:13:06 PM »

They do allow you to bring your own "picnic" basket into the track  - they have weird rules such as no prepared food, prepared commercially that is. you can bring a cake in but not in a Dominicks box, you can bring in sandwiches - but not a sack of subway sandwiches.

No you can't BYOB, but plenty manage to sneak it in one way or another.
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« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2006, 10:15:56 PM »

That's a shame, because Chicago has such a large number of restaurants with BYOB policy... And if my memory is correct, BYOB contributes to weekday attendance at Monmouth and Saratoga (although I'm sure Sar is in no need of help in this respect).
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« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2006, 10:16:15 PM »

David, is it true that Arlington allows picnic baskets and "outside" refreshments in the park area? Someone told me they do. That's probably a great draw too.

Picnic baskets and outside refreshments of a non-alcoholic nature. Officially. Though you see a lot of the yupster families in the park toting brews you know aren't sold anywhere in the facility.

Now, if Hawthorne HAD a park, maybe you could duplicate something like that, but why bother when your best weather months are April and October? Closest they come is the nice apron bbq and music during harness season.
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« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2006, 10:18:03 PM »

I was up at Kenosha dog track last weekend, their variety and value of food was excellent. They had little booths set up here and there selling specials like bbq ribs and chicken - I had the chicken was 4 bucks for the typical 1/2 chicken dinner. On Friday nights, I think, they have 1 dollar beers and dogs and everything - haven't been there in a while - but they get a strong young crowd for that - but then again - there isn't much to do in Kenosha.
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« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2006, 10:18:15 PM »

That's a shame, because Chicago has such a large number of restaurants with BYOB policy... And if my memory is correct, BYOB contributes to weekday attendance at Monmouth and Saratoga (although I'm sure Sar is in no need of help in this respect).

NYRA tracks discontinued BYOB in the last couple years. Dunno about Monmouth, maybe Al will tell us.

 
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« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2006, 10:21:14 PM »

I was up at Kenosha dog track last weekend, their variety and value of food was excellent. They had little booths set up here and there selling specials like bbq ribs and chicken - I had the chicken was 4 bucks for the typical 1/2 chicken dinner. On Friday nights, I think, they have 1 dollar beers and dogs and everything - haven't been there in a while - but they get a strong young crowd for that - but then again - there isn't much to do in Kenosha.

Pshaw! They have the Brat Stop! What more does anyone need!

Was this during live dog racing? I always thought their concessions during simulcasting sucked. Haven't had to go up there since I quit owning horses in Arizona, and had to hike up there to see them run because Arlington wouldn't import TuP. Arlington or someone.
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« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2006, 10:22:34 PM »

This is unrelated to the current thread, but I was just sorting through Haw charts... seems that Noggin Dude is burning money at the n2L level now! I don't know how many times I've seen this bum lose as the favorite... Why do people bet on horses to win that have shown they can finish 2nd often enough but can only finish 1st with God's assistance?
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« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2006, 10:29:50 PM »

Yes, there was a live card going on, the concession stand on the simo floor (2nd Floor) (sports bar or whatever they call it) is nothing more than adequete. But, they had some stands on the landing outside of of there. They also seemed to have a decent looking buffet set up (as far as buffets go anyways) on the 3rd Floor (where you look out onto track) for like 5 or 6 bucks, but I didn't go for it.

On a non food note, they seemed to have a real nice crowd - alot of people up watching and betting the dogs, and a real strong simo crowd - many of which were actually betting real decent money (maybe they don't have the internet in Wisconsin yet). Odd part was they didn't have Tampa Bay for some reason, and they seemed to give preferential treatment to any Magna track, even alot of posters and announcements etc. etc. Haven't figured either out yet.

They have a model of what thier proposed Indian Casino will look like if they ever get it approved.
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« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2006, 10:40:21 PM »

The Indians have as big a stronghold in WI as in AZ. Good luck to 'em. And to CA while we're at it.
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« Reply #33 on: February 27, 2006, 07:50:27 AM »

That goes without saying, everything will be fixed, and horseplayers will suddenly materialize from thin air to flock to the tracks to bet the quality horses that will also materialize from thin air, and they (the new players, not the new horses) will shove $billions in parimutuel handle through the windows, and it will be a grand and glorious renaissance of horse racing, when everyone will wear hats and crowd the $50 windows and stand in line with their well-dressed paramour to dine at the Gold Cup Room, just like in the old days, so staggeringly awesome is the power of slots. But we were just noodling around other ideas, on the slim chance the tracks don't get slots.

Terry, don't forget the children!

Ed
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« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2006, 02:21:29 PM »

NYRA tracks discontinued BYOB in the last couple years. Dunno about Monmouth, maybe Al will tell us.

 

Monmouth still has a BYOB in the picnic area. (from the 1/4 pole to the 1/8 pole a furlong of picnic fun and always teeming on weekends when people get there early to reserve their favorite table close to the action.
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Kickers beat one-pacers almost every time.
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