Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -
Last Saturday, the new $88 million Meadowlands Racetrack opened for live racing, just over three years after many wondered about the sport’s future in New Jersey. Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, has never doubted racing’s viability in the state and has been a forceful advocate in supporting the effort to promote its success.
Dancer was among the 15,000 patrons on-hand for the grand opening of the new track, which is operated by Jeffrey Gural, the managing partner of Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment. Dancer was the primary sponsor of a bipartisan bill (A-3710) that received unanimous legislative support and was signed into law in 2011. The bill permitted the New Jersey Sport and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to jointly run the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park racetracks during the transitionary period until a lessee was found.
“The opening of this magnificent facility would not be possible without the bipartisan support of the Legislature and Governor Christie, and the expertise of Mr. Gural,” said Dancer. “The horse racing industry is an important part of New Jersey from an economic, environmental and entertainment perspective. Our objective over the past three years has been to create excitement at racing venues in order make the industry vibrant and successful. The opening of the new Meadowlands is an important step in achieving that objective.”
The new Meadowlands is about a third of the size of the racetrack it is replacing. Its grandstand can seat 2,200, and the clubhouse, simulcasting area, bars, upscale restaurant, sky boxes, corporate meeting rooms and outdoor terraces can hold 10,000. An outdoor facility, expected to be finished next year, will expand capacity to about 20,000 for major events such as the Hambletonian in August. The simulcasting part of the facility opened Nov. 18.
“Despite the long-shot odds that the racing industry could survive in New Jersey, this modern facility shows there is a future for this great sport in our state,” stated Dancer. “This modern facility appeals not only to avid racing fans, but to the younger generation and families as well. A fresh approach to marketing horse racing in New Jersey was needed, and the new racetrack, with all its amenities, reflects what today’s racing enthusiasts and tourists are looking for.”
Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment reported Saturday’s on-track handle at the new facility totaled $530,917, or 18-percent of the total of $2,968,600.
It was also reported that last year’s 72 day racing season at The Meadowlands, which extended from December 27, 2012 through Hambletonian Day, August 3, 2013, the total handle for the 72 days exceeded $204 Million. The average handle per night was $2,843,203. Compared to 2012, the total handle, despite racing six less days, yielded an increase of over $44 Million, or 28 percent. The average daily handle of $2,843,203 was an increase of more than $700,000 over the average daily handle in 2012, or 33 percent.