Tampa Bay Handle Down

Tampa Bay ended its recent season with a decline in average daily all-sources handle.

Tampa Bay Downs ended its 86th racing season with a decline in average daily all-sources handle during the 92-day meet that began Dec. 3, 2011, and ended May 6.

Average daily all-sources handle on the live product dropped 10.91%, going from $4,760,450 for the 2010-11 meeting to $4,149,073 for the 2011-12 meeting. Field size at the recently concluded meet was 8.54 starters per race compared to 9.11 for the previous meet.

“I am optimistic every season, but we knew 2011-12 would present several new challenges,” said vice president and general manager Peter Berube.

“Lacking the same revenue streams as many tracks--such as slot machines and other forms of casino gambling--presents additional challenges,” Berube said. “Also, not having a deal with TVG may have been a factor in our final numbers.

“But with all of that, we still averaged about $4.15 million a day, which again made us the fourth most popular winter signal in the country and placed us more than $1 million ahead of the fifth and sixth-place tracks.”

Berube pointed to several bright spots, including negligible drop-offs in average attendance (from 3,195 to 3,148) and live on-track handle (from $226,855 to $219,842, a 3% drop).

For the season, 289,609 patrons passed through the turnstiles, wagering an average of $127.56 per person on live racing and simulcasts. That figure represented a slight increase from the previous year. Total on-track handle for the season (including imported signals from simulcast wagering) actually increased by almost 3%,  to $40,245,422 from $39,143,522.

Despite the handle decline on the live signal, there was good news for owners. Average daily purses paid increased from $160,944 to $162,320, mostly thanks to a minimal decline in overall pari-mutuel revenue.

Looking ahead, Berube plans to address those areas he can control while facing the evolving pari-mutuel industry head-on. “We look forward to weighing our options, tweaking a few things, and beginning preparations for a strong 2012-13 season,” he said.

Tampa Bay carded a record 262 turf races during the 2011-12 meet, and 279 horses were claimed, a 20% increase from the 2010-11 racing season.