The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will proceed with construction of a permanent building at the site of the current At the Rail tent at Saratoga Race Course.
The group received approval April 30 from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board to go ahead with the project.
The building will replace the seasonal tent and trailers located immediately adjacent to the end of the Clubhouse. It will consist of a 36,000-square foot, three-story, climate-controlled building featuring differentiated hospitality options and modern amenities, NYRA officials said. In addition to the three floors of usable space for guests, a basement level will provide space for a kitchen to service the building.
NYRA currently plans to break ground on the project at the conclusion of the 2018 summer season and anticipates the new building will welcome guests on opening day of the 2019 meet.
“This project is another example of NYRA’s continuous efforts to provide the best possible experience for our guests. The new building will transform the parcel of land at the south end of the property with the type of differentiated seating, dining options and amenities synonymous with a world-class sporting venue,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “Perhaps most importantly, the new building will address the modern-day needs of Saratoga Race Course while honoring its history. We have taken great care to ensure that the building is historically consistent with the fabled architecture of our grandstand and clubhouse. We look forward to beginning the next steps of this much-anticipated project.”
SOSH Architects will continue to oversee design, bid and construction administration services for the building. Matt Hurff, partner at Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects, will continue to serve as project consultant to ensure all historic preservation standards are met.
The project has received the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which specifically noted the importance of the new building to the future of Saratoga Race Course.
“The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is pleased to offer its support for the New York Racing Association’s planned At the Rail building at Saratoga Race Course, which incorporates historically sensitive design details,” said Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart. “The Foundation looks forward to seeing the New York Racing Association’s significant investment in this building come to fruition.”
In recent years, NYRA has placed significant resources behind historic preservation efforts at Saratoga Race Course. In 2015, it began to restore the copper roofing that historically bordered the slate-covered roof on buildings throughout the property. This is visible in a number of locations, including the archway over the Clubhouse escalator, which was installed in 2016; the paddock mutuel building roof, to which copper accents were added in 2017; and the Clubhouse from the Easy Goer to the Club Terrace, which will feature the addition of copper along the roofline for the 2018 season.
In 2017, NYRA unveiled several upgrades to the historic paddock mutuel building, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are intended to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was constructed in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather, officials said.
The Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board also expressed support for the new building.
“The objective of this project is to maintain the historic character of Saratoga Race Course while responding to changes in the sports and entertainment landscape to ensure a sustainable, successful future for racing at Saratoga,” said Joseph A. Torani, Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board chairman. “The Saratoga Local Advisory Board strongly endorses the decision by the Franchise Oversight Board to approve construction of this new building which will accomplish these stated goals.”
Since 2013, NYRA has invested more than $30 million at Saratoga in efforts to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities that are consistent with those available at first-class stadiums and arenas.
These efforts are most recently demonstrated through the creation of The Stretch, Saratoga’s newest hospitality area located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, which will debut on opening day of the 2018 meet.
The Stretch will feature modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch drive. Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a dining tier, reserved bar seats, and approximately 200 premium reserved seats.
Additionally, guests now have more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout Saratoga Race Course; 950 picnic tables available for free on a first-come, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards in the backyard and infield; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and new attractions and hospitality areas such as the Saratoga Walk of Fame, Fourstardave Sports Bar and Easy Goer.
The 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course will be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing, officials said.
The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.
For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.NYRA.com/Saratoga.