The Good Old Days

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 11, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I was talking the talk with a couple of retirees from the racing world the other day. They were recalling the days when we tried anything to keep the people happy. We had “mortician’s night,” people were allowed to wed in the paddock, and all-gal races on Valentine’s Day. We had fun, and nobody got their panties in a wad.

My favorite was “old fashioned night.” This was when they would roll back program prices, and concessions to be pennies on the dollar. The place was packed, and just think about all of the stock they got rid of for the meet. The players loved it, and the write up’s were great. The track was taking care of the greatest asset. Everyone was winner. Pass the relish ……

How about “double-header” cards? There would be a post time of 1 p.m. and then take a two hour break, and come back with a 7:30 p.m. post…. This was before the simulcast explosion,  and life was good. I remember sitting with my dad and his wife dreary eyed, and watching the last race close to midnight.  Now, we have cut back days, and the racing office struggles to fill one card of races due to casino competition.

They drew for cars, vacations and even a brand new house. I remember them all… I just read that we need to attack and market racing as a thinking game. I agree, but don’t make it too hard. That is just the thing that sends people to casinos to play slots. We need to keep this in mind while we multi-target fan demos. We need $1 beer and dog night with music for the new crowd. Family fun days where the kiddies can come out for face painting, prize wheels, and corn-hole. Wiener Dog races where the pet lovers can come out and bring Rover and run with the doggies.  Let’s grow new crowds for the future.

This may just work after all.  We may make a mistake by making this too hard to digest.

Here is an idea. Let’s have handicapping seminars, voucher giveaways, and special guests who can come in and speak on various topics. Let’s feed the players, and keep ’em in the house. Give them drink specials, and create track trips, and I think we are heading in the right direction. Let’s make it easy, and show the people how much we care. Do you see a sign above a slot machine that says this is so easy your dog can do it? Nope.. Don’t make people feel stupid. Make them feel welcome, and make them feel like they have a say so with the track. Now, let’s try that and leave the stock market to Wall Street. Make it fun, and they will figure out the rest.