Major Changes in Store for Gulfstream Park

Major Changes in Store for Gulfstream Park
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
A major renovation project at Gulfstream Park will result in changes to the grandstand-clubhouse areas and a new turf course.
Steve McCasey of the McCasey Group, the architectural and development arm of Magna Entertainment Corp., was in South Florida this week finalizing plans for a sweeping overhaul of Gulfstream Park he promises will be dramatic.

Among the changes likely to occur over a five-year period are a complete renovation of the track surface -- to feature a 1 1/8-mile dirt course and a pair of turf courses, including one at seven furlongs -- and a reconstructed seating area that eliminates some of the traditional distinctions between grandstand and clubhouse seating.

"Frank (Stronach, Magna's chairman) believes in breaking down class barriers," McCasey said.

McCasey would not confirm speculation that the construction would require the elimination of Gulfstream's backstretch, seasonal home to more than 1,200 horses, except to say that "all of the ducks are in a row" with regard to finding alternative stabling accommodations. McCasey expects Stronach to issue a public announcement on the matter within two weeks.

Magna is hopeful construction can commence in the spring of next year, immediately after the 2001 Gulfstream meet. That is subject to approval of regulatory agencies as well as the endorsement of Magna's board of directors, which will review the plans during a regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 19.

Gulfstream is in the process of seeking to expand its calendar of 63 live racing days, and will have the opportunity to do so in 2002 with the demise of Florida legislation that regulates the dates tracks may operate. "We expect to be running more dates sooner or later," track president David Romanik said.

McCasey also hinted at the possibility of additional Magna acquisitions within the state of Florida, comparing the situation to California where Magna has purchased Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, and Bay Meadows within the past two years. "We are committed to racing in Florida," he said.

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