Meadowlands Numbers Decline; Improvements Planned

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns and operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands, is planning several improvements at both racetracks and will sell $15 million in bonds to pay for them.

Of the $15 million, nearly $9 million will go for an upgrade to the electrical system at Monmouth Park, which was built in 1945; $2.3 million is for a new board at Meadowlands and about $2.9 million has been allocated for parking lot improvements at the complex in East Rutherford.

The bond sale, unanimously approved by the NJSEA last week, will likely take place next month. Bruce Garland, NJSEA senior vice president, said that plans for the Monmouth Park upgrade had been drawn up nearly two years ago.

Meanwhile, Meadowlands reported both handle and attendance fell during the Thoroughbred meet that ended Saturday.

"Overall, we're disappointed," said Garland. "We started off strong, but when the field sizes began to decrease and we couldn't run on the turf, the fields became short and the bettors, whom I can't blame, chose other venues."

On-track handle was down 7.8 percent to $530,014, fueled by a decrease in attendance of 8.6 percent. The total nightly handle also declined 13.9 percent to $1.8 million.

One positive note for the Meadowlands season was a 5.9 percent increase in total on-site wagering, which exceeded $112 million for the entire Thoroughbred meet.

Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey will resume next spring when Monmouth Park kicks off its meet on May 26. >