Attendance up; handle down as Ellis Park closes 90th season | Business
Ellis Park closed its 90th season of live racing on Monday, September 2. The Henderson facility welcomed over 100,000 guests throughout the season, and generated over $35,000,000 in all source handle.
Average daily attendance was 3,868, an increase of 5% over 2012 results. This increase was attributed in large part to the mild weather the region experienced during the 29-day live racing meet.
The average daily on-track handle for 2013 was $184,107, an 8% decrease compared to $200,349 in 2012. Total all source handle averaged $1,189,274 per day, which is a 17% decrease over 2012. The decrease in handle is largely attributed to the summer live racing schedule at Gulfstream Park, which was a first for the 75-year old thoroughbred race track. They began running on June 25, the week before the beginning of the live racing meet at Ellis Park. Another factor in the handle decrease is the closure of Kentucky Off-track Betting establishments. There were three OTB’s in the state that contributed to 2012’s all source handle at Ellis Park, but due to declining business, these were forced to close in June of this year. Starters per race for 2013 were 8.1 comparable to the average 8.4 starters in 2012.
Some of the event highlights of the meet included the 9th Annual Wiener Dog races, which were held over two consecutive weekends for a total of five races. The racing fans were able to make a charitable wager for a chance to win a t-shirt. The proceeds from the 2013 Wiener Dog races benefited Evansville ARC, Warrick Humane Society and the Henderson Humane Society. Each of these groups sent volunteers to help run the races. Attendance during the three days of Wiener Dog racing totaled more than 12,500 people.
“The Wiener Dog races have been a fan favorite for many years,” said Marketing Manager, Robyn Oglesby. “It’s great to be able to bring people together with such a fun event and raise money for local nonprofit organizations at the same time.” The Wiener Dog races raised more than $4,500 for the local organizations.
The famous Camel and Ostrich races were held in late July and saw a crowd of more than 5,700 people. Other popular promotions included KY HBPA College Laptop Giveaway Day, Horses & Hope Day, KY Lottery Giveaway Day, Ladies Day and Military Appreciation Day. The ever popular Dollar Day sponsored by the KY HBPA continued this season on Sundays, generating an average attendance of more than 5,400 each day.
The Instant Racing Machine parlor celebrated its one-year anniversary on August 31. IRM handle during the live racing season was $5.8 million. Average daily handle during live racing days saw an increase of 30% over off-season days in 2013. Revenue generated from the 187 IRM’s will go toward purses for the 2013 and 2014 live racing seasons at Ellis Park.