East Rutherford, NJ --- This past Saturday night, the Meadowlands wrapped up its 2013 racing calendar with another $3 million night. Something that was achieved only four times in 2012, including Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian Day, the $3 million night has become almost expected on Saturday nights and is an example of the success The Big M had in 2013.
Total handle wagered on the Meadowlands racing product increased from $171,920,157 in 2012 to $226,822,574 in 2013. That is an increase of nearly $55 million or 32 percent. While live handle was virtually flat, $24,595,767 in 2013 compared to $24,653,746 in 2012, the Meadowlands raced two less days in 2013 due to weather cancellations. The live handle per card of $307,447 in 2013 was a slight increase from the $300,655 in 2012.
"To see these kind of numbers in this day and age borders on the remarkable," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "A racetrack showing a 32 percent increase in handle without the addition of expanded gaming, or some other factor, is something we can look back on with pride.
"While we certainly received a shot in the arm by moving into a new facility in November, the majority of our racing days were in our old grandstand.
"These results are truly a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team. The customer service provided by this team is second to none and I have no doubts that it played a role in producing these results."
"These results show that when you listen to your customers and make proactive changes, great things are possible," said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "We gave the bettors a second Pick-4 to wager on, moved post time back slightly to give customers a bit longer to make it to the races, improved our export signal and also gave our customers an integrity driven product to wager on.
"This past year was a lot of fun and is something we can all be proud of, but now the bar has been raised and we have expectations that we intend to surpass again in 2014. The brand new Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will go a long way in helping us accomplish our goals."
The Meadowlands wasn't alone in its success. Winners Bayonne, the off-track wagering facility owned and operated by Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, yielded substantial increases as well. Based on a five-month sample in 2012, Winners Bayonne projected to do approximately $35 million in handle in a full calendar year. But in 2013, Winners Bayonne surpassed $50 million in handle, 42 percent more than the 2012 one-year projections.
"We had a very good year at Winners," said Zoccali, who also oversees that property as part of his responsibilities, "but we aren't close to done yet. We have a great Director at Winners in Michelle Byrd, complemented by a great management staff that take a very proactive approach in implementing their ideas in how they feel we, as a team, can make Winners even more successful.
"Operating a simulcast facility is a tricky thing, because when it comes to the product offered, you are dependent upon other tracks that are racing. Each year, the total number of race days across the country is less. So, to show these kinds of gains in this market is remarkable. It is a testament to customer service, ingenuity and hard work of the entire team at Winners. We look forward to another great year at Winners Bayonne."
The all new Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has been widely praised for its beauty and ambiance. Things will only get better in the spring, as the Meadowlands opens the expansion of its track apron, known as The Backyard, which will include many new amenities, dining and entertainment that the old paddock park did not have. In addition, the rooftop, known as Victory Terrace, will be opened in April and will certainly be a highly sought after location to not only watch the races, but to enjoy a night out at an outdoor lounge with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Details and information on the grand opening of both locations will be made public in the coming months. Customers can log onto www.playmeadowlands.com for previews.
Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural spoke about how Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment is built with a vision to drive an entire industry in a new direction.
"This facility is so much more than a racetrack," said Gural. "People know what a racetrack is, they know what every racetrack offers. But this is not just a racetrack. This facility was built with the intention of providing something for everyone, including those individuals who never stepped foot in a racetrack before. Pink, Victory Sports Bar and Victory Terrace are meant to attract younger people to our facility, and expose them to our racing product, with the hope the entire package provides a night's worth of entertainment that will have them wanting to come back. Fine dining, entertainment, gambling and late night drinks and dancing would typically require a person, or a couple, to go to three or four different locations. At Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, it is all rolled into one."
The Meadowlands also built a state of the art, elegant owners club, named Trotters, that also has a specific purpose.
"At the vast majority of racetracks, a room like Trotters simply doesn't exist," said Gural. "It is a gorgeous room that provides elegant dining, luxury, marvelous ambiance and a great view of the racetrack. The hope is that a person who owns horses will take advantage of this unique location to come and watch his or her horses race, with family and friends, rather than watch at home, because Trotters, much like Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, isn't just racing, it's an experience."