The president of Santa Anita cautioned Tuesday that downsizing and possible layoffs may occur at the Arcadia, Calif. track, which was purchased by his boss, Frank Stronach, two years ago.
Only on the job for two weeks, Jack Liebau said that Stronach's company, Magna Entertainment, is re- evaluating operations at its seven racetracks across the United States. Liebau issued a one-page memo to Santa Anita employees last Thursday alerting them to potential future changes.
"It's very important for us to be honest at all times with our employees," Liebau said. "I think the memo speaks for itself."
In the letter, Liebau said the new network of Stronach-owned racetracks may require job consolidation and a reshuffling of positions. Liebau wouldn't speculate about when these changes may take place or what sectors would be affected.
The memo's cloudy forecast is indicative of the outlook of many corporations that want efficiency while trying to maintain profitability.
"It's not anything confined to Santa Anita," he said. "It's happening all across America. It's nothing out of the ordinary."
Santa Anita has between 400 and 500 union and non-union employees. About 90 non-union employees work at the track throughout the year.
Santa Anita General Manager Brant Latta said it's almost inevitable that a change in management will bring a change in philosophy. He viewed the letter as "the usual course of business" and doesn't believe there will be a major cutback of jobs.
"With any new management they are going to look for efficient ways to do business," he said. "It's never fun when there is talk about downsizing but it's necessary in most cases."
The track's publicity director Stuart Zanville also downplayed some of the memo's more ominous tones and said employees are focused more on the upcoming winter meet than rumors surrounding Magna's future plans at the park.