As Delaware Park begins its 69th season of Thoroughbred racing, management has announced a major Las Vegas-style expansion of the facility pending approval from New Castle County, where the track is located.
Delaware Park chief operating officer Bill Fasy said the "master plan for Delaware Park" would be handled by Joel Bergman, the architect behind such notable Las Vegas properties as The Mirage, Golden Nugget, Treasure Island, and Paris Las Vegas. The master plan includes a hotel, restaurants, structured parking garages, and other entertainment offerings similar to those at a Las Vegas casino
Fasy said he expects it to take nearly 18 months to get county approval and for construction to begin.
"We have an agreement in principle with Bergman to create an expansion of Delaware Park," said Fasy, who noted the investment in the racetrack by the Rickman family the last several years has been "astonishing."
The proposal comes at a time when slot-machine parlors are preparing to open in neighboring Pennsylvania. Delaware Park will have new competition in nearby Chester, Pa., as well as in the Philadelphia area.
The 136-day meet, which will offer a stakes schedule worth almost $5 million, begins April 22. New renovations throughout the clubhouse include what Fasy calls the "world's largest Hitachi video wall," located on the first floor clubhouse and featuring plasma LCDs for full-card simulcasts. A new English-style pub has been constructed near the video wall, while the outside seating has been entirely replaced.
"We also completed a drainage project on the main track, and we've negotiated a contract for a Jumbotron for the infield," Fasy said.
Because of recently passed legislation, video lottery terminals at Delaware Park began operating on a 24-hour schedule April 3, with the exception being Sundays, when it closes from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. Fasy said the increased hours would add some revenue to the purse account, though overnight purses average $211,000, down from the $226,000 at the conclusion of the 2005 season, because of a $5.5-million overpayment.
Some new faces in the trainer colony include J. Larry Jones, who won last year's Delaware Handicap (gr. II) with BA Man's Island Sand, plus Kathleen O'Connell, Dale Capuano, Ed Gaudet, Anthony Pecoraro, Hamilton Smith, Barclay Tagg, and Michael Trombetta. Trainer John Servis is splitting his stable this year between Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park, while four-time training king Scott Lake will be back to seek a fifth title.