I have invited certain individuals from racing (track management, owners, trainers, drivers, journalists) to offer their opinion why we can't seem to get people to show up to the races anymore. In particular, I wondered how Atlantic City Race Course can draw more people for one day of a six day meet for only six races than almost any harness track can draw for their biggest race days.
This is not a question of betting, I am talking butts in the seats simply watching the races. Has harness racing declined to the point we can't even draw people to simply watch our races? Are we doing something wrong and if so what is it? What can we do to fix it, if any?
Since many of these people have key positions or relationships with the industry, I promised anomynity to these individuals. Other than themselves and I, no one will know who these people are. Since I call this having their say, they get their say without my commenting on their words.
Well, here is the first of those responses. We will call this person Hal.
The one thing I would say, though, is that I don't think the difference between harness and thoroughbreds is as big as you think. Other than places like Saratoga, no one goes to the thoroughbreds any more, either.
Atlantic City is a very interesting situation. No track in America is in worse condition. It is literally falling apart. But by running 4-5 days a year, they have an audience in South Jersey that is hungry for live racing. A day at the crappiest track in America is now an event. If the Meadowlands ran five days a year they, too, would have big crowds. The ACRC phenomenon speaks to the fact that there is way too much live racing in this country and that the number of tracks and race dates needs to be cut down on dramatically. That goes for both breeds.