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Aging Florida Racetrack in a Race Against Time

3 January 2001

FLORIDA – Jan. 3, 2001 – As reported by the Miami Herald: "For six decades, horse-racing fans have been going to the same track in Hallandale Beach, sitting in the same chairs underneath the same awning, surveying the same landscape as race after race goes by.

"…Horse racing was once the biggest spectator sport in America, but its fan base has dwindled rapidly in recent years as bettors grow too frail to go to the track, die and aren't replaced by new fans. How do you keep a track alive when 3 percent of the fans in any given year won't be back?

"At Gulfstream, the answer is to dress up the track with attractions other than horse racing. Make it a multifaceted, year-round entertainment venue with an indoor arena, a gigantic sports bar, live boxing and simulcast horse races from around the world. And, if gaming interests succeed in getting a state referendum passed, the track would also offer slot machine-like video gambling.

"…[Scott Savin, the new president of Gulfstream] described the new vision for Gulfstream as ``a cross between Las Vegas and Disney,'' and said that ideally that could be realized in two to three years. Under the plan, the old Gulfstream Park buildings will be replaced. The new seating area for watching the races will be about a third the size of the old, with a concert venue and sports bar filling the space.

"…Compared to other tracks nationwide, Gulfstream is doing well. At a time when many are closing, Gulfstream still pulls in as many as 10,000 fans a day, 20,000 for the weekend races and 30,000 for the crowning event of its season, the Florida Derby.

"…Not everyone likes the new look. Hallandale Beach resident Newcomb Green, who has been racing horses in South Florida for half a century, opposes turning horse racing into a sideshow…"

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