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New Attractions for Monmouth Park [AUDIO]

Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport is looking to take a page out of Atlantic City‘s playbook and add new offerings to attract the nongaming visitor.

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Monmouth Park
Monmouth Park (Dan Specht, Townsquare Media NJ)

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, which leases the track from the state, is planning the addition of new amenities including a concert venue holding over 3,500 seats, an upscale restaurant, and miniature golf course.

“The short-term plans are pretty much set in stone, so the mini golf course will be completed already and the restaurant and concert venue will completed for May of 2015,” said Dennis Drazin, adviser for the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.

Prior to the Breeders’ Association’s lease from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the track was subsidized by the state. When those subsidies were withdrawn, the park was hemorrhaging money — having lost more than $12 million in 2011 — and faced closure unless new ownership could be found.

Though the Breeders’ Association has improved revenue, the track was still losing roughly $4 million as of last year. The group hopes new sources of revenue can help bring them into the black.

“In order for Monmouth (Park) to succeed, we really need to reinvent ourselves,” Drazin said, “and build it into more of a destination where people can come and enjoy other things than racing.”

Unlike other states, New Jersey tracks do not use a portion of their casino and slot revenues at horse tracks to subsidize purses. Drazin hopes more revenue means better purses, which in turn will attract better horses and better draws.

While the short-term plans call for the addition of more nongaming options, Drazin said the long-term plans involve the possibility of slots or sports betting. However, that will have to wait until after 2016, when the state’s moratorium on gambling outside of Atlantic City is lifted.

“We would be seeking to get slots or casinos there at that point,” Drazin said. “There is sports betting litigation pending before the United States Supreme Court, so we’re looking to offer that.”

Drazin said more gambling would rely on cooperation from the state legislature as well.

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