The state horse racing authority on Thursday voted to ward off the 2020 racing agenda on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds via one week, confirming county truthful officers’ worst fears and making a struggle between the county truthful and the beginning of the varsity 12 months.
However Sonoma County Truthful CEO Becky Bartling and board Chairman Max Mickelsen are treating the verdict as a one-time alternate, pinning their hopes on persuading the state board to switch its thoughts subsequent 12 months in spite of a unanimous vote Thursday that rebuffed Sonoma County truthful officers’ considerations.
Truthful officers have already taken primary movements to mitigate the consequences of the agenda alternate to Aug. 6-16, together with cramming maximum junior farm animals techniques into the primary week of the truthful ahead of faculty begins. They’re additionally making plans a advertising and marketing blitz designed to entice households to the truthful all over the primary week of faculty, which is predicted to start out Aug. 12.
“It’s now not a super state of affairs,” Bartling stated. “It’s now not one thing we need to proceed doing.”
However neither Bartling nor Mickelsen are in a position to sever the truthful’s ties with the eight-day racing collection, even supposing they expect it’s going to purpose a drop in attendance in 2020 via scheduling a lot of the general week of the truthful whilst Sonoma County youngsters are again in class.
The verdict to pair horse racing with the truthful has failed to forestall a decline in income and attendance during the last seven years. The truthful has long gone from 17 days in 2013 to 11 the previous 3 years. Paid admission has dropped from $199,826 in 2013 to $125,802 this 12 months, declining virtually annually all over that extend.
Officers have blamed fires for earlier attendance drops, and pointed to contemporary mass shootings, like the only on the Gilroy Garlic Competition, as attainable individuals to decrease attendance this 12 months.
Officers have stressed out the want to draw in more youthful fairgoers. Probably the most constant attendees, about 1,000 of them, display animals all over the junior farm animals portion of the truthful. The junior farm animals auctions proceed to usher in stable income, producing $1.68 million this 12 months, up from $1.64 million ultimate 12 months. However this 12 months, the agenda might be compressed into one week and the next weekend to verify it does now not struggle with faculty.
Racing, in the meantime, has taken its lumps, producing not up to $100,000 in income for the truthful ultimate 12 months, down from $1.33 million in 2007.
However horse racing nonetheless produces some benefit for the truthful, famous Bartling, who stated the races have been “nonetheless a success.” And he or she stated it’s laborious to gauge the entire financial have an effect on of horse racing, together with the cash spent on truthful tickets, meals purchases and carnival tickets via other people attending the races.
The decline in horse racing revenues in Sonoma County reflect a development going on at different venues around the state, which is a part of the cause of the agenda shift that would receive advantages two better festivals — the Alameda County Truthful in Pleasanton and the State Truthful in Sacramento. Subsequent 12 months, racing on the Alameda County Truthful will get started the week after the Fourth of July. The State Truthful in Sacramento might be subsequent, adopted via the Sonoma County Truthful.
Mickelsen stated officers will in an instant start paintings with California Horse Racing Board officers to nail down dates for subsequent 12 months. The purpose: transfer racing again to the truthful’s commonplace agenda in 2021, which will require switching puts within the agenda with the State Truthful.
“We’re taking a look at this as a one-shot deal,” Mickelsen stated.
When requested in regards to the prudence of banking at the state board having a metamorphosis of middle, Mickelsen stated native truthful officers have to take a look at. If Sonoma County Truthful attendance and revenues drop sharply in 2020, it would beef up native officers’ argument to transport racing up per week in 2021, he stated.
Sonoma County Truthful officers gained’t surrender, regardless that.
“There’s no means on this planet shall we simply merely roll over,” Mickelsen stated. “We didn’t win this 12 months, however that doesn’t imply we’re now not going to show round and take a look at to get again our ancient dates for years to come.”
You’ll succeed in Personnel Author Tyler Silvy at 707-526-8667 or at [email protected] On Twitter @tylersilvy.