The 2015 meet at Saratoga Race Course opens on July 24. This much-anticipated relatively brief annual gathering in upstate New York is an economic boon to Saratoga Springs and surrounding areas. Restaurants are full of diners, shoppers are plentiful in downtown, and lodging facilities at least double their rack rates and often have no vacancies. Even run-down motels are able to double and triple their normal prices, plus there is an 11 percent charge for state and local taxes.
Several racetracks across the United States hold summer meets that are huge boosts to local economies. The prominent ones are the aforementioned Saratoga Race Course, Del Mar in Southern California, and Monmouth Park on the New Jersey shore–and none of these are racinos. (American Pharoah’s entry in the William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 2 will be a colossal benefit to Oceanport.)
C-Span 3 featured the city of Lexington, Kentucky over the past weekend. Part of the telecast focused on Keeneland racetrack. The statistics cited during the segment demonstrate how much non-profit Keeneland contributes to Lexington and Fayette County.
According to a recent research study, Keeneland’s economic impact on the Lexington and Fayette County area is approximately $600 million annually. The money earned by Keeneland is distributed three ways: back into the facilities, to the Kentucky racing industry, and to community charitable and non-profit organizations. The $600 million should easily be surpassed in 2015 with the Breeders’ Cup added to the mix of offerings.
Keeneland conducts high-class boutique racing meets in the spring and fall (and does not have alternative gaming). It is the world’s leading auction company for Thoroughbred bloodstock. Keeneland holds racing 32 days per year and hosts three auctions over 35 days annually. The auction company sells between 8,000 and 8,500 horses each year and attracts buyers from 52 countries. In addition, Keeneland is a year-round training venue.
Carefully look around during a visit this summer to Saratoga, Del Mar, or Monmouth for the Haskell (or at Keeneland for the sales). You will see and sense a splendid example of what economists refer to as the multiplier effect, whereby spending by people drawn to the racetracks has wide-ranging salutary effects on local businesses and the indigenous economy.
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