Thursday, August 13, 2009

Extreme Racing Brings Them In

Claiming Crown Day at Canterbury Park is arguably the biggest day of racing of the summer. The finest horses in American to run for a tag over the last year and a half converge on the Shakopee oval and folks come from all over to watch them compete. This year over 11,000 people turned out for the big day. What could possibly bring more fans through the turnstiles?

Ostriches.

Yup, it was Extreme Racing Day at Canterbury Park on Sunday, August 9 and over 15,000 folks packed the grounds to see ostrich and camel races sprinkled in among the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races scheduled. And even those races had some pretty interesting conditions: a 100-yard QH race that gives new meaning to the word 'dash'; a 2 1/16 mile marathon that may be the longest race conducted at an American pari-mutuel facility this year; a turf race only for turf maidens and even a race for 7-year olds and up.

The buzz in the chatrooms, on Facebook and even my e-mail was all about Extreme Day and how much fun it is for the fans. While I'm sure attendance exceeded expectations, it didn't translate into extreme handle with total handle barely eclipsing Thursday night's despite having twice the patrons. That being said, though, how many will come back? You HAVE to bring new bodies in if you have any hope of growing the business. If even 10% decide to come back next weekend for the 'regular' races and wager a bit, isn't that worthwhile? Let's say average attendance is 7,000. That means you may have hooked 800 new patrons that you've added to your fan base. That's not bad.

Traditionalists may go crazy seeing this type of stuff, but I would ask the traditionalists: How well have you been drawing doing the same thing every day?

2 comments:

Jack said...

They advertized a "Zoo" but the real zoo was in the grandstand area trying to navigate aound kids and strollers. The lines at the windows were long but that's because it took 3 or 4 family members to place a couple $2 show bets. Don't get me wrong I loved seeing the big crowd but when 2/3 of them were walking out prior to the John Bullit stakes because the camels/ostriches were done you knew there would be no handle to speak of even with 15k in attendance.

Ted Grevelis said...

LOL...I know that these aren't your hard core fans, but I do admire them trying something to fannies in the seats. It works, obviously, but now the big trick is turning a nice percentage of those folks into players...