Track attendance and handle down; Saratoga business up
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The numbers at the track—attendance and on-track handle both down almost 11 percent— don’t tell the story of business in Saratoga Springs this summer.
“Our business is up over last year. We’re thrilled,” says John LaPosta, the chef-owner of Maestro’s restaurant.
Hotel operators say business is on-par or better than 2009. “Our business is about exactly the same as it was last year,” says Cindy Hollowood, the general manager of the Holiday Inn.
Most local merchants credit beautiful weather with bringing the crowds downtown to stay, even if they aren’t going to the track. Cindy Hollowood has been at the Holiday Inn for 29 years and estimates the same number of people are staying overnight, but fewer of us are making day trips. “I don’t think so much that the overnight visitor is affected, although they may shorten their trips from 5 to 3 days, I think it’s probably the day-trippers that are affected.”
John LaPosta, the chef owner of Maestro’s, says he’s enjoying a great year and doesn’t pay much attention to how the track is doing. “We just mind our business and do everything we can to keep our numbers on the upward swing, and it’s worked.”
For its part, NYRA says it’s “gratified” by the first half of the meet and claims its “biggest days are still ahead.” Still, the Chamber of Commerce believes the numbers are down because of the uncertainty of whether there’d be a racing season at all.
“The really good news though is that shouldn’t be the case next year,” says Todd Shimkus, president of the chamber, referring to the recently completed deal to install video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track. That deal is expected to infuse much-needed revenue into the New York Racing Association.