Tidying up the grandstand area, building more permanent structures, expanding the backyard picnic area and improving the appearance of entrances are some of the projects being considered for the first major overhaul at the Saratoga Race Course in almost a half-century.
The long road to finalizing a redevelopment plan at the race course began Thursday afternoon with a quiet meeting at the Saratoga Springs City Center, where no members of the public weighed in on the proposed scope of the environmental impact from work at the race course. A finalized scope of the possible environmental impacts is scheduled to be completed next month but a draft environmental impact study isn’t expected to be completed until January 2014.
Once there is a green light from state and local agencies to begin work, New York Racing Association strategic development adviser Paul Roberts said officials anticipate a 10-year construction plan to realize their vision for the race course.
At this point, it’s not even clear what projects NYRA will want to take on, as the environmental review process now underway requires them to take into consideration every possible project for the master plan.
“NYRA has made no decision, yet, as to which projects they will actually contemplate,” Roberts said.
Most of the possible projects stem from a plan put forward in 2011, with the largest difference being more development of the grandstand in the previous plan.
A major area for renovations is the backyard picnic area, which would be expanded and become more organized. The expansion would move into space occupied by parking now, but Roberts said the loss could be offset by parking spots at the Oklahoma training track across the street. Concessions and vendors would be rearranged an the backyard and the two entrances in this area would undergo major landscaping.
Additionally, an entrance would be added by the red spring pavilion. This Lincoln Avenue entrance would serve as a natural gateway to the backyard. The current Union Avenue entrance, under this plan, would be converted to a grandstand garden.
Other possible projects are familiar to people tracking the development at Saratoga, including new dormitories, barns, a permanent luxury suite and removing some of the superfluous clutter in the grandstand added during the last major renovation in 1965.
Roberts said there isn’t a price tag for these projects, but any capital improvements at Saratoga would likely be funded by video gaming money NYRA receives from Resorts World Casino in New York City.
A key point of this plan is that it will be all-encompassing, not piecemeal changes that don’t fit together.