With customer experience a priority for upcoming meet at Saratoga Race Course
, the New York Racing Association will invest $1.9 million in a series of capital improvements at the track.
The summer meet begins Friday, July 18 and concludes on Labor Day, Monday, September 1.
NYRA also announced plans for its annual pre-season preview party at Saratoga—the 34th Open House on Sunday, July 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.
The capital improvement plan includes the addition hundreds of high-definition television sets throughout the facility, new high-definition large-screen video boards, an enhanced sound system, improved wireless capabilities, an increase in the number of picnic tables for the backyard, upgrades to the restrooms, and a new entertainment area for families that will include an expanded event tent.
"We want our guests to have a great experience when they come to Saratoga Race Course," said NYRA CEO and president Chris Kay. "We appreciate this treasured venue and are investing in it for all horse racing fans who cherish their visit to Saratoga."
Among the improvements:
High-definition televisions—Approximately 500 new high-definition televisions, ranging in size from 19 to 70 inches, will be installed throughout the facility, including in the popular backyard area, the exterior grounds near the grandstand and clubhouse, clubhouse box seats, and the interior of the grandstand and clubhouse, including all dining, bar and mutuel areas.
Video walls—Large new video walls will be installed in three highly populated grandstand areas--the paddock, the outdoor mutuel bay, and near the Carousel Restaurant--for enhanced high-definition video display of racing and other information.
Trakus—The high-tech system that enables fans and television viewers to easily track their horse's position throughout a race will be launched at Saratoga Race Course in 2014.
Saratoga Pavilion—Home to a number of on-track events, the Saratoga Pavilion located inside the Reserved Seats Box Office entrance will be expanded to 40-by-70 feet and feature improved flooring and electricity.
Child-friendly entertainment—In addition to the many regular family activities, the playground area will be expanded so that kids have more room to play on the various pieces of equipment. Separately, the backyard will have a new, dedicated area where children can visit with and touch one of Saratoga's outrider horses and learn about a horse's daily routines and activities.
Wi-Fi—After monitoring areas of high density Wi-Fi usage on-track last year, capacity in high volume areas will be quadrupled for 2014 in order to improve service and minimize connectivity delays.
Restrooms—Select restrooms will experience a number of renovations and upgrades, including new fixtures, mirrors, paint and more.
Outdoor dining—The Saratoga Porch dining area, open for breakfast and lunch, will be expanded to provide more tables offering a close-up view of the races.
"The operation of Saratoga Race Course generates an annual economic impact of more than $200 million across the greater Capital Region," said Kay. "Numerous businesses, large and small, including the vast network of retail, restaurant and hospitality establishments, depend on Saratoga Race Course as an economic resource and engine.
"We're trying to develop a sustainable business plan to ensure that we generate enough revenue to cover our costs so that we can remain a vital economic source for the community for many years to come. These enhancements are designed to create a better overall experience for our fans."
Saratoga's Open House is an annual day of family events and attractions. It will feature carnival games, live music, pony rides, behind-the-scenes tours, handicapping seminars and an array of food and beverages.
Admission and parking are free.
The highlight of the day will be the return of the Newman E. Wait Jr. Trials, presented by The Adirondack Trust Co., held on the historic Oklahoma Training Track located across the street from the main facility.
Named in honor of the well-known Saratoga Springs resident, businessman and philanthropist in 1984, the trials will consist of several exhibition flat runs beginning at 11:30 a.m. Pari-mutuel wagering will not be available on these races, but the public is invited to attend and enjoy the pure spirit of competitive racing in the old style of the country fair.
"Open House provides the perfect opportunity for families to sample all that Saratoga Race Course has to offer before the season officially begins," Kay said. "We look forward to welcoming new and returning fans alike to take part in this pre-meet tradition."
For additional information about events at Saratoga Race Course, click here