Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Not the Stray Cats Fault

Hollywood Park is cancelling their Friday night cards and the rock concert that accompanied them.

According to Holly Park Prez Jack Liebau, "We had a lot of people that seemed to come just for the concerts. We’re not in the concert business.”

This might make it more difficult to compete with the "Dodgers and the Giants" but nevertheless, it's the right thing to do. Hollywood Park is in the betting business, not the concert business.

Mountaineer Park in 1998 had $30,000 handles from their live crowd. They then decided they were in the betting business. They distributed their signals to everyone (even those "evil" rebaters) and pushed the bet with Mark and Nancy on a nightly basis in a neat time slot. Despite non-winners of a race since Bob Dole was majority leader for 5 claimer conditions and trainers named "Scooter", their handle was $1M a night.

Gulfstream Park is in the betting business. The Rainbow Six is a bet, not a stakes race, or a new band. It's a bet. What's garnered more buzz this meet, how many Pletcher horses with nice pedigree's win, the return of Animal Kingdom, or the Rainbow Six?

Balmoral Park is a race track that allows betting. A couple of Saturday's ago they gave away $98,000 in purses and had $1 million in handle. Meanwhile, other tracks with three and four times that purse level can barely break $400,000. Low rake, a few decent pools and a track who knows that its customers want to bet, not watch a band, can do some handle.

We're not competing with a baseball team. We shouldn't expect some dude who wants to dance to an 80's band after having nine beer compile his own pace figures for the night so he can come back tomorrow. This is not going to a Copperfield show and coming back half cut and dropping $400 at a roulette wheel. Handicapping is a brain game.

Horse racing is in the betting business. We just need to act more like it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about Hollywood Park, so I have to ask. What did management do to get the concert goers to the betting windows? Were information areas set up to help? Instructions on how to bet posted or distributed in the concert area?

I've been behind plenty of people who want $2 win on "the gray horse" or "Skip To My Lou."
Veteran horseplayers scare away a newbie who's asking a teller questions with one minute to post.

Marquez said...

anonymous said

"What did management do to get the concert goers to the betting windows? Were information areas set up to help? Instructions on how to bet posted or distributed in the concert area?"

That is the major problem.

The idea at So.Cal Tracks is that if you can get them to walk through the gate,they can become horse-players.

I do not see anything fundamentally wrong with that thinking.

However,they have no clue how to go about getting them to the betting window. But then when most of your Marketing Department(not talking about Hollywood) has no knowledge of wagering basics,its pretty tough.

Del Mar has found success with their concert promos, but that is a party boutique meet,and I think they have accepted the fact that most will not play the horses...but buy beer they do!!

Anonymous said...

Marquez, thank you for answering my questions. I suspected your account of the concert nights was probably the case. Hollywood impemented half a business plan and then announced it didn't work!

Too many track managers forget their work isn't finished when the crowd shows up for the music. Pushing food and drinks could pay the concert costs and even leave a profit, but if you want people to try betting (or even just watch the horses) you need a plan that goes beyond bands.

Marquez said...

I could not agree with you more on this issue Anonymous.

There is more to the story on Hollywood Park pulling the plug on their concerts and Friday Nights.

The management there is in a "lame-duck" situation. It is widely believed that the track will give way to development at the end of their Fall Meet this year.

Not a lot of incentive to cultivate new business when you know you are closing.

To say So.Cal Racing is in a precarious situation right now would be an understatement.