Santa Anita Plans to Renovate Chandelier Room

Plans unveiled at community meeting May 14 in Arcadia, Calif.

Santa Anita Park unveiled renovation plans for its turf club and clubhouse at a community meeting held in the track's Chandelier Room May 14.

Many of the renovations are slated to be completed in time for the track's fall meeting, which begins Sept. 25, and its hosting of the Nov. 1-2 Breeders' Cup World Championships at the track in Arcadia, Calif.

Keith Brackpool, chairman of California operations for The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, addressed the group of about 50 people in Arcadia, Calif. He outlined plans that include an update for the Chandelier Room, which he termed "one of the most iconic rooms in all of horse racing," a statement that drew applause.

Several people attended the meeting in response to a local newspaper article that claimed Santa Anita was going to turn the Chandelier Room into a nightclub. The room, which is in the heart of the track's turf club, is used during the non-racing season for community events and wedding receptions. The room dates back at least to the 1950s. Its art deco design blends with the architecture of the racetrack, which was built in the 1930s, and some local residents view the room as a vital piece of Arcadia's history.

Brackpool said that the renovations would keep the dual staircases that flank the room, as well as the chandeliers and the bar. Plans include opening the area between the staircases at the top to create a balcony overlooking the track, provide a lounge area, and bring light into the room. Renovations through the years had eliminated windows and darkened the room.

"I don't ever see somewhere inside of Santa Anita as a very good place for a nightclub," said Brackpool. "It makes little sense. This is a room that needs to be celebrated."

The chandeliers will be cleaned and restored, and a men's restroom will be added. A ladies' restroom is already part of the room. Furniture will be updated. Brackpool said he hopes to save the wooden flooring, but that because it has been refinished so many times over the years, it may not be possible. A similar flooring will likely be put in its place.

A room upstairs next to the Chandelier Room will be updated with flat-screen televisions. Patrons will be able to watch races from many tracks as well as other major sporting events. A balcony will be created so that those in that room can see the horses en route from the walking ring to the track.

"In all the research we do, one of the most important things for people is getting to look at the horses," said Brackpool.

Some seats and tables in the turf club will be realigned to provide more room at each table, said Brackpool. Plans also include creation of a couple of banquet rooms that will overlook the track and encompass some of what Brackpool called "underutilized areas."

Brackpool explained that many of these renovations are necessary because of the additional racing dates anticipated for Santa Anita due to Hollywood Park's closure at the end of 2013. It is possible Santa Anita's meeting could be extended through the July 4 weekend.

Cost of the renovations was not revealed. Complete renovation plans that Brackpool expects the track to undergo in the next two to three years have not been finalized. He said he hopes to make "significant improvements" in the box section of the clubhouse, but because of time constraints. that won't happen until after the Breeders' Cup.

But primarily, Brackpool assured those at the meeting that the Chandelier Room will remain an iconic part of Santa Anita.

"What this room needs," said Brackpool, "is some real attention, some real care. That's the intent of what we're doing. When you walk back into it (after the renovations are completed), you're going to marvel at just how great this room really is."