The New York Racing Association has announced a major capital improvement project at Saratoga Race Course designed to create an enhanced hospitality area for racing fans and revitalize the section of the grandstand near the top of the stretch.
The Stretch, located in the grandstand at the top of the stretch, will debut opening day of the 2018 Saratoga summer meet and marks the first significant enhancement to the structure since the mid-1960s.
Guests will have an opportunity to make their move to The Stretch, an all-new private hospitality area featuring modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of Thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch run.
Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a high-end raised circular bar, touchscreen tablets, and new premium reserved seating. Additionally, The Stretch will offer guests exclusive access to a full-service kitchen and concessions, high-definition televisions and video screens, special events, table service, and private restrooms. Guests also will enjoy a relaxed dress code at The Stretch.
The Stretch is the latest in a series of capital improvements at Saratoga. Since 2013, NYRA has invested more than $30 million at the historic venue in efforts designed to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities consistent with those available at first-class stadiums and arenas.
Guests now enjoy more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout the property; 950 picnic tables available for free on a first-come, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and the renovation of the upper and lower Carousel.
"Over the past five years, we have placed a tremendous emphasis on enhancing the guest experience at this much beloved sporting venue. We first made a commitment to expand the number of free picnic tables in the backyard with improved sound, video, and Wi-Fi, and then to make a day at Saratoga more affordable than ever for fans with our season pass and Season Perks programs," said NYRA CEO and president Chris Kay. "We have also dedicated significant resources to showcase the history of this grand place, from the Whitney Viewing Stand to the Saratoga Walk of Fame, to the restoration of the Paddock Mutuel Building. Now, for the first time in many decades, we are creating new boxes for people of all ages to enjoy a day at historic Saratoga Race Course."
In 2018, the grandstand also will be outfitted with a new copper roof which will offer protection from the elements and improve the experience for guests.
"The new copper roof will protect the grandstand from weather damage and provide an aesthetic experience in keeping with the building's historic character," said Matt Hurff, partner at the Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects, and a consultant to NYRA. "The Stretch will offer guests the best of both worlds, modern, comfortable, and technologically advanced amenities, seamlessly integrated into the charm of America's oldest continuously operating race course."
The Stretch will offer a total of 32 new modern boxes, each offering unique configurations accommodating parties ranging from four to 12 guests, in comparison to traditional clubhouse boxes which each seat five guests. The options include tiered boxes, which each feature a halfmoon table and total of eight seats split evenly on two levels. The lounge boxes offer comfortable couch-style seating and accommodate four to twelve guests. Lastly, the flex boxes contain three tables which each seat up to four people, and can be configured to host four, eight, or 12 guests, depending on availability and the size of the party.
Guests will also enjoy an upscale circular bar, featuring a full range of beverage options, which is raised to offer uninterrupted views of the unique sightline from the top of the stretch. The bar will be bordered by a drink rail facing the main track with a total of 20 raised seats. Additionally, a two-tiered dining area alongside the bar will feature four, six, and eight-person tables.
The front section of The Stretch will contain approximately 200 premium reserved seats, which are each flanked by a table.
The boxes, reserved bar seats, and dining tables will feature touchscreen tablets offering access to livestreaming, mobile wagering via NYRA Bets, and mobile food and beverage ordering.
All hospitality at The Stretch will first be available to the general public on a seasonal basis. Remaining inventory will be available for partial ticket plans beginning in April (based on availability).
Reserved seating options for The Stretch are now available for paid reservation on a seasonal basis. Reservations can be made exclusively through the NYRA Box Office by phone at (844) NYRA-TIX, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.nyra.com/saratoga.
The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from July 20, through Labor Day, Sept. 3.