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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The three-year anniversary of the "New Meadowlands" ...

by Peter Lawrence, VFTRG Correspondent

... is almost upon us, and I just came across this promo video the U.S. Trotting Association and host GiGi Diaz produced at the time, in 2013.
Horsemen, fans and the press were interested in what the heck was going on at the new grandstand site - I know I was - and here it is in its then-state of incompleteness.
Interesting that the tour, led by, I guess, the worksite's construction manager, points out the owners' club, tiered restaurant and sports bar, none of which had their names yet ... Trotters, Pink and Victory.
The video ends with track owner-operater Jeff Gural's optimistic comments about the new facility.

Would he still have made the grand - and VERY expensive - effort to build and operate the new place if he knew the challenges that were ahead, which continue to this very day in 2016?
Probably, I'd guess, though one imagines he thought Meadowlands would have had, or been closer to, the dream of casino gambling on-site, which still hasn't happened.
And which STILL may be several years away.
I'm glad he made, and continues to make, that effort. Jeff is sometimes a controversial guy, but, through it all - and I don't love everything about the new place or today's Meadowlands racing - Gural did save the place from a desperate situation.
I'm thrilled he, his partners and others working behind the scenes, like the SBOA, stepped up and made the effort to save horse racing, especially harness racing, at the Meadowlands.
I hope the casino dream and a return, of some sort, to the old glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, does eventually occur at the once-palace.
Interesting, too, is that the hulking old grandstand facility - I loved that place, I think many people did - still exists right where it's been for 40 years.
I still drive right by the old place every time I attend the Meadowlands races, after exiting the New Jersey Turnpike's well-known Exit 16W.
I still sigh every time I see the old place. It never fails to happen.


Pacingguy said...

Would Jeff Gural have stepped in to save the Meadowlands if he knew everything he would go through? I tend to doubt it.

Blaine said...

It's a risk-reward proposition Pacingguy....At some point gaming in NJ is gonna expand outside of A.C.... When? Well that's the 8-figures a year question that Gural wants an answer in the affirmative sooner than later. 2016 isn't looking good....

Anonymous said...

the new Meadowlands is an inadequate, noisy, incomplete atrocity. it has chased away far more harness racing fans than it could ever dream of being made. The building alone is a statement of how little Jeff cares about horse racing fans and how much he cares about his own wallet.

William Waters said...

Anonymous, you complain the New Meadowlands is inadequate and incomplete, yet you fail to cite any specific evidence to support your views. As for "noisy," the acoustics and sound system in the old track were obsolete by the mid-80s.
As for sizing, it's 2016, not 1976, and thus the building is more than adequate for the modern crowds. Have you ever dined in any of the restaurants? Have you ever viewed the races from the rooftop level? Do you enjoy the outside grandstand seating that the old venue lacked? As for your charge that Jeff does not care about racing fans and only cares for his own wallet, the evidence totally refutes your captious claims. Jeff has sunk millions into breeding, racing as an owner, and subsidies for purses. With all due respect, comments like yours belong on a website like

Anonymous said...

Cited Reasons:
1) There are two (count 'em TWO) rows of seats in the inside grandstand which are used 80% of the time that the track is open as the races are held mostly during the colder months of the year.
2) You cannot even hear the race calls from the grandstand due to the loud music playing (even on Hambletonian day I might add) and the noise from the loudmouths at the bar.
3) If more than 5 people are on line at the teller windows in the grandstand then you CANNOT PASS BY to go to the restroom or escalator. While on those lines, there are always several people there that are not even betting and are in your way. You can't even really blame them as there really isn't much place else to go.
4) Speaking of that restroom (yes that's a singular term I use appropriately here), there are 2 urinals and 2 commodes there. How accommodating!
5) You now have to deal with many drunken people from the bar located about 75 feet from the tellers in the grandstand. Some of these folks are so inebriated that you can't even understand them. Many of them are unnecessarily loud and obnoxious. Don't believe me, ask the tellers. (Also, ask the tellers what they think about Jeff and the new building while you're at it)
6) I personally have never seen a new building before with so many cracks in the foundation and the walls.
The fact is that Jeff poured millions into the racetrack so that he could make billions in the eventuality that it becomes a racino. And get this, he gets ALL of his money back in the event that this doesn't happen! When is the last time that you made a business deal with that kind of caveat?
Sorry Mr. Waters, but with all due respect, open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with anonymous on this. Gural with his antics and crew have driven me away from standardbred racing never to return.

The ground floor is literally inpassable due to the narrowness of the grandstand, tv locations, and tables and chairs haphasardly strewn about.

Customer service is a facade for the true horseplayer. I was 25 year horseplayer who bet $2k with churn every time I walked through the door. "Jho" treated me with disrespet as if I were a lepper. They basically only cator to the clients who bet $50 a night.

The noise is unbearable both inside and outside. The constant irritating music and screaming is turned up to the point of distortion.

Here is a small sample of how Gural will try to literally squeeze the last penny out of you. Concesssion stand prices were changed to reflect prices BEFORE tax. When has anyone gone to a racetrack where concession prices were not tax included?

Conflicts of interest anyone? I race my horses at "MY" track, exclude some competing trainers and owners, and make sure the race office has the races with Gurals horses go even with 5 entries.

Post time drag is a fraud and should be stopped at ALL tracks. Putting the wrong post time on the odds boards is the same as communicating wrong will pays. It affects bettors actions wil information known to be inaccurate.

Gurals public rants of his disappointment and feuds with Sears and others has created a death spiral. Respect and loyalty are earned, not demanded under threat when there are other options.

That should do for the moment.

Anonymous said...

Note: Edited to eliminate an inappropriate tagline.

I love all the "he saved the place....". He saved NOTHING. The place was built risk-free (due to his deal with the State), and with large "investment" from big industry players. The actual racing is GEARED specifically towards those industry players, giving them a chance to race for stakes money with the horses that they all seem to own a piece of. The "regular" horseman is stuck racing for low purses, in overcrowded fields, with sub-par drivers getting in the way much of the time (and that's why anybody with a horse good enough to compete at Yonkers/Pocono/Chester races there, instead). Did I mention that the deck is further stacked for the "in crowd", when trainers are routinely tossed for "suspicion", while proven violators are allowed to stay, as long as they are part of that aforementioned "in crowd"? Furthermore, when "the boss" complains about all the money he's had to add to the purse account (a small risk for the big potential slot reward), he conveniently fails to mention all the dollars generated by that ridiculous facility that do NOT go to the horsemen (like from the nightclub, restaurant, events, etc.) - I'll bet that money does a nice job offsetting some purse account dollars while the wait for slots continues.