Betting on Saratoga's Future

Posted on: September 20th, 2007 by Preservation magazine

Saratoga Springs FoundationThe racehorses may be finished for the season at Saratoga Race Course, but the ordeal regarding the future of the famous racetrack is far from over.

The Saratoga Race Course, which opened in the city of Saratoga Springs in 1863, is the oldest organized sporting venue in the United States, and track attendance and profits increase each season. Will its good fortune last?

Although the state owns the buildings and tracks, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) currently owns the franchise to run thoroughbred racing at Saratoga Race Course. Because that contract ends in December, many wonder what will happen to the 350-acre racing complex. With talk of possible renovation and modernization, Saratoga residents fear the racecourse is in danger of losing its historical charm.

For the past two years, an extensive proposal and bidding process has gone on between NYRA and other contenders in anticipation of NYRA's soon-to-expire contract, and after reviewing all proposals, Gov. Spitzer decided to recommend that NYRA receive the franchise for the next 30 years. The final decision, expected in December, is in the hands of state legislators, who must determine whether to take the governor's recommendation or choose a different company.

Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Supervisor Joanne Yepsen thinks the state and its legislators should consider residents during the decision-making process, as the upcoming year could mean big changes.

"We don't want to see the relationship between the residents and NYRA deteriorate due to lack of zoning or planning. There needs to be a partnership, as opposed to the residents just taking what they can get."

- Jeesoo Park

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Preservation Magazine