Gulfstream Park executives have unveiled the temporary facilities it will use for its 2005 meet, putting a positive spin on what promises to be a challenging meet.
"We've got a shot of doing something special and unique this year," said track president Scott Savin, who called the new facilities "quaint. Everybody loves the ambiance of places like Fenway Park and they ignore the inconveniences."
Gulfstream's inconveniences are self-made, owing to a massive reconstruction that began when its meet ended last April. The racing surfaces have been enlarged and reconfigured, and the entire clubhouse was torn down to make way for a new one slated for completion this December.
With construction ongoing, virtually the entire south side of the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track will be off-limits to patrons during the 2005 meet that runs from Jan. 3 through April 24. That includes the finish line, meaning track patrons will be forced to rely on television monitors more than ever. "It will definitely be a TV driven, jumbotron driven race meet," admitted Savin.
It will also be a largely outdoor meet, with the only under-cover areas for patrons consisting of large tents. The main tent, a wagering pavilion, has been set up near the final turn with two smaller tents just off the track. Capacity in the three tents is about 2,500.
There will be no charge for admission or parking for patrons who utilize these tents and/or the outdoor areas. Separate tents are in place to accommodate those wishing to dine and for large scale bettors.
The concert series which drew large weekend crowds to Gulfstream in recent years has been scrapped, replaced with a live radio show and weekend performances by the track's "house band."
"We think we can give people an experience that is equal to or better than what they were used to," said Savin. "If it can be fun for people, we've achieved our goal."