A report on the economic impact of the summer race meet at Saratoga has concluded that the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., track contributes about $200 million annually to the economy of a nine-county region that comprises the greater Capital Region.
Conducted by HR&A Advisors Inc., the study released Nov. 15 by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency found that Saratoga generates an estimated $186 million to $213 million in economic impact each year from three primary components: $61 million in output attributed to track operations overseen by the New York Racing Association; $58 million in expenditures from participants, including owners, trainers, jockeys, and breeders; and $67 million to $94 million in spending by tourists and visitors to the region.
The study was based on numbers from 2010 and analyzed the race meet’s impact on various sectors of the regional economy, including overall spending, employment, Thoroughbred breeding, real estate, tourism and hospitality, and tax revenue for local and state governments. The report is an update to a previous study conducted in 2006.
In terms of the socioeconomic impact of Saratoga, Saratoga County has experienced “strong economic growth” over the past decade in comparison with the rest of New York State, and that the racetrack is a “crucial contributor” to the county’s character, the study concluded.
“This comprehensive report demonstrates that Saratoga Race Course is a crucial economic driver not only for Saratoga County residents, but for millions of New Yorkers who reside well beyond the track’s historic gates on Union Avenue,” Saratoga County IDA chairman Raymond F. Callanan said in a statement. “The direct expenditures made by NYRA, horsemen, and spectators have a true ripple effect throughout our economy and stimulate our overall economic health while creating demand for more jobs and services in a number of related industries.”
“The Saratoga County IDA has long been a valued partner of both NYRA and Saratoga Race Course and plays a vital role in insuring a strong future for the economic welfare of residents of Saratoga County,” NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said. “NYRA is deeply appreciative of the IDA’s support through its commissioning of this study, which outlines the positive fiscal impact of Saratoga Race Course on Saratoga County and the greater Capital Region.”
Among the key findings in the study:
-- Saratoga County continues to be an attractive location for Thoroughbred breeding operations with 9% of agricultural parcels throughout the county classified as horse farms in 2010. The figure demonstrates a significant increase from 2004, when only 6% of agricultural parcels were classified as horse farms.
-- The annual operation of Saratoga creates between 1,830 and 2,050 full-time jobs in the region. Between 2005 and 2010, employment in racing-related industries increased by 30% in Saratoga County and by 5% throughout the nine-county study area in comparison with an 8% increase in non-racing-related sectors in Saratoga County and a corresponding 2% decline throughout the region.
--Tax revenue generated from the operation of Saratoga is estimated to range between $12.6 million and $14.6 million in 2010, with up to $5.5 million accruing to the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County and up to $9.1 million accruing to New York State. The tax revenue is generated from income tax, sales tax, property tax, tax on admissions, room tax on lodging, off-track betting surcharges, and NYRA statutory payments to New York State entities.
--Saratoga County experienced population growth of 9% in 2010 compared with the 2000 census while the nine-county study region grew by 5%; overall New York State saw a 2% increase in residents during the corresponding time period.
--Saratoga’s hospitality and tourism industry has performed strongly in recent years, with a 3.1% increase in hotel overnight stays and more than $40 million invested into the construction of new hotel rooms during the past five years. In August 2010 average daily room rates in Saratoga reached $192 compared with $117 in the overall market.
--The median home value in Saratoga County is the highest in the nine-county region. At $250,000 it is more than $50,000 greater than the median home value in Columbia County, which had the second-highest median home value in the study region. An analysis of properties in Saratoga Springs revealed at least 175 properties with a market value of $107 million belonged to persons connected to the Thoroughbred industry.
The study also found that even though there was a slight decline in wagering and attendance between 2005 and 2010, Saratoga performed “significantly better” than the other New York State Thoroughbred racetracks in the past decade.
In 2010 Saratoga had the highest live pari-mutuel handle of any New York State Thoroughbred racetrack by nearly $30 million, with $115 million wagered on site on live races. The total ontrack handle of $127 million at Saratoga, combining live handle with simulcast wagering, was 5% higher in 2010 than in 2000.
In 2010 Saratoga attendance totaled approximately 870,300 patrons, the highest of any New York State Thoroughbred racetrack. Saratoga maintains higher annual attendance, average daily attendance, and average daily live handle than any other racetrack in the country that hosted at least five grade 1 stakes in 2011, the study states.
The average purse per race at Saratoga was $62,880 in 2010, significantly higher than the New York State average of $32,030.