Fan group critical of NYRA
Updated: July 2, 2014, 3:59 PM ETBy Tom Precious | Bloodhorse.com
A state-created fan advisory group has blasted the New York Racing Association for operations June 7 for Belmont Stakes day, saying problems that hit everything from parking lots to betting lines to lack of security hurt the industry's stated goal of trying to reach new fans. "What was a rare opportunity to bring new fans to the sport was instead marred by embarrassing missteps that all but ensured those potential fans would not become a part of New York's storied horse racing legacy,'' wrote the New York State Racing Fan Advisory Council in a letter dated July 2 and sent to the head of NYRA. The letter was released by the New York State Gaming Commission, which regulates NYRA. The association is now run by a state-dominated board of directors as part of a temporary reorganization. The advisory council said it appreciated NYRA's effort to expand the day's race card and full fields, as well as additional entertainment meant to attract new fans to Belmont Park. But it said NYRA botched the handling of the day in a series of ways the council has been warning about since 2012. The group said its recommendations have either been "discounted or ignored" by NYRA. The problems witnessed by members of the council either first-hand or through accounts of patrons "raise serious questions regarding NYRA's pre-event planning and overall strategy for conducting the event," the council's letter states. The five-member advisory group said the many troubles occurred on a day when NYRA already raised the grandstand admission price by 500% and a cup of beer cost $10.
The bad experiences began in the parking lots, where patrons who in some cases paid as much as $100 in advance to reserve a space were turned away when the lots filled early on a day that attracted more than 100,000 people.