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Thursday, January 28, 2016

A New Vision for Future Racetracks?

While the new Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment facility is a physical plant designed for the current economic reality of horse racing, it probably doesn't represent the future look of racetracks.  For a current track which gets the idea, a multi-use facility, Gulfstream Park probably represents the current idea of a mixed-use facility, with a casino, shopping, dining, and corporate offices as part of their development.

The next step in the future of racetracks, may be coming to Georgia, if horse racing (including harness racing) is approved.  There, in a state where casino gambling would seem unlikely, there are plans for a different type of mixed use facility with retail, residential housing, hotels, equestrian, and of course the racetrack.  The racetrack would be unique with a park inside the racing oval connected to the various districts.  The park can be used on both racing and non-racing days for concerts and other events to maximize utilization of the facility.  On the outside of the racing oval, there will a grandstand surrounded by retail dining to allow customers to watch the races (and to be open on non-racing days).

The concept is not totally new, as a similar development is being developed at Alexandra Park in New Zealand.  Under the current model, racing alone is not self-sufficient, but as part of a retail and residential development can be profitable as a destination and a point for community events.

Time will tell whether or not pari-mutuel racing is established in Georgia which would allow this development to be built, but considering the need for a steady source of cash to operate racing outside of slots, other tracks would be wise to redevelop excess landholdings into money-making parcels.

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