NTRA Dues to Drop 25%; Commitments Sought

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's strategic plan for 2006-10 calls for a 25% reduction in membership dues, said NTRA officials who hope to have the renewal process completed this summer.

Memberships in the NTRA expire at the end of this year. The organization hopes to get members to commit to five years to coincide with the new strategic plan approved by the board of directors April 18.

"The model calls for a 25% reduction in dues," said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of marketing and industry relations for the NTRA. "We looked at a number of different models and scenarios based upon updated handle figures and concluded the fairest approach would be to reduce dues across the board."

D.G. Van Clief Jr., confirmed as the new NTRA commissioner during the April 18 meeting, indicated the dues reduction coincides with elimination of the cooperative advertising program at the end of 2005. Racetracks no longer will receive a kickback to help pay for advertising.

The 25% reduction amounts to about $2 million, Van Clief said. On the racetrack side, Churchill Downs Inc., Magna Entertainment Corp., and the New York Racing Association account for a large portion of dues.

"In terms of unrestricted dollars, it will not have any negative impact (on the budget)," Van Clief said.

Chamblin and Van Clief said it appears membership renewal efforts would be successful based on preliminary feedback. Chamblin said there would be no comment on the status of individual members.

"Based on positive feedback received over the last several weeks, we believe the renewal process can be completed by mid-summer," Chamblin said.

The 2006-10 strategic plan, which Van Clief said is subject to minor changes, should be ready for industry review some time in May.