Did You See That?

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 1, 2009 in General Discussion | 3 Comments >>

I was 16 years of age, and I went on a family vacation with my dad to Florida.  I wanted to do something where wagering was involved, and he took me to see the fastest sport in the wagering world.. Next to NASCAR, this is the fastest game I have ever bet two bucks on, and now it is dying.

We were at Jai Alai in Orlando. I was an older looking youth with a full-beard, and getting in was no problem. Picking winners, well that was another story.

I was reading that the Orlando Jai Alai fronton was closing. On December 27th, the doors will close on this Florida landmark. They had it all: full-card simulcast wagering, lottery, and the ever popular poker rooms. Life could not have gotten any better….

The establishment saw its heydays in the 70’s and the 80’s. There were concerts, and they bragged to have had Elvis and U2 back in the day.

It seems as if the competition bug has just not bitten racing, but this fast sport is feeling the effects as well.. They have Indian casinos, off-shore boats, and Internet cafes. They cannot take the heat, as the taxes and lack of a following has killed them off.

On the final day, there will be 75 workers put out of a job, and 30 players. There will be no send off, and no final party to celebrate the history of the game. When the gaming commission stuck a fork in the poker room, it was all but over.. So, if you never saw the ball that moves over 200 mph zing past the players, and be sent back against the wall for the return, you sure missed a neat game. It was a house of wagering that offered so much, and I cannot believe that it will be gone.

I am sorry that competition is squeezing out games that brought enjoyment. It is hard to believe that there will no send off for the loyal employees or players. They were a part of world that offered a fast paced evening of enjoyment. Hard to fathom. The memories and the sport are all gone faster than a ball served from a cesta on the opening serve.

3 Responses to “Did You See That?”

  1. ted says:

    A very sad moment for the sport and for the best fronton in Florida. I would like to recommend that they have one more short season until it closes. Have one last Citrus tournament. Now that Jail ALai has some press everybody will come out to see what they are missing. It would be a great send off for the players, employees and fans. It would be a money maker for sure.

  2. John Costin, ametuer player 30 yrs. breadman says:

    I first warched “HiLi” in 1962 when Orlando first opened. I have also been to Daytona where some of the best players played in the spring/summer.(for their vacation)?,Orbea(the great one)Churruca,Chimela,Egurbi,Benjamin,Solozabal,Adolfo,father of Eligzige,I have the program for 1965 season.Players came from other frontons to play in Daytona including Echaniz older brother of Orlando’s General Manager, Echaniz. Too many more to mention.

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