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Backing The Price Of Admission

Published: May 27, 2016 1:53 pm ET

Last Comment: May 30, 2016 8:32 am ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Paying admission to watch live horse was pretty much the norm back in the heyday of the sport of horse racing. Times have clearly changed, and tracks that charge a fee to enter the grounds nowadays are few and far between.

The fact that many racetracks have casino-gaming areas in today’s day and age make the topic of charging admission a complicated discussion.

Some in the horse racing industry believe it is better to not charge admission. Some of the thinking behind that position is that open gates will help lure more patrons to the track, and, in turn, those patrons will then have more ducats in their Levi’s to throw around inside the facility.

There are those that feel that charging admission to enter a racetrack is important. It is generally well known that track operators must incur a relatively large overhead in order to put on the show and make a card of racing a success.

Others that support the idea of charging admission say that the paying of admission legitimizes live horse racing as a desired event.

Regardless of the psychology behind both positions, one thing is for sure: Mike Newlin is a proponent of charging admission.

If you think you have heard the name ‘Mike Newlin’ before, it’s because you have. Newlin was brought into the fold at the Meadowlands Racetrack a handful of years ago when Jeff Gural came onto the scene in northern New Jersey.

Newlin left the Big M after a few years and made his way down to Florida. This past fall, Newlin took over the role of general manager of Horsemen’s Park in Nebraska (he is also the vice president of racing operations).

You can count Newlin as someone that is in favour of charging admission at the track to watch the races – and he has no qualms about letting everyone know why.

As an article by explains, Newlin believes fans can’t attend any sporting event without paying admission. He also said that Horsemen’s Park should have been charging fans from the first year it held a live meet.

“I paid $7 to get into our son’s seventh-grade wrestling meet,” he was quoted as saying. “Everyone charges admission, and we need it if we’re going to get things turned around.”

The article explains that effective last Friday (May 20), it now costs $5 to head out to Horsemen’s Park and enjoy the races.

“It’s the No. 1 change that people are talking about,” Newlin said. “I’ve even heard from some horsemen who question whether it’s the right thing, but I know that it’s something we have to do.”

The article states that Newlin is quick to point out that all proceeds from admission fees will go directly into funding purses for two more live racing days, to be held July 29 and 30.

“The number one thing I hear is that fans want more live racing,” he said. “When I explain that by charging admission we can fund more races, they’re OK with it.”

Kids aged 13 and under are exempt from the entrance charge. Those that do pay the price of admission receive a free race program, which is intended to boost handle.

“It’s been proven how important it is to put a program in [customers’] hands,” Newlin said. “We want the fans to come out, but we also want them going to the (betting) windows.”

Newlin went on to say, “I want to see horse racing come back to its glory, and I know a lot of other people do, too. This business is not dead, and the changes we’re making are steps in the right direction.”

Also, the Woodbine Entertainment Group announced earlier this year that a $15 grounds admission ticket is required to attend the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in 2016 (Woodbine is offering other admission packages, but those that wish to attend the grounds that day will have to pay at least $15).

(With files from

May 30, 2016 - 8:32 amNo wonder The Meadowlands got

murray brown SAID...

No wonder The Meadowlands got rid of him.

May 29, 2016 - 8:58 amAfter reading this, I can

Mike Mobley SAID...

After reading this, I can understand why The Meadowlands and Mr. Newlin parted ways very shortly after he was hired.

May 28, 2016 - 12:51 pmSounds like a very sound

Ted Decker SAID...

Sounds like a very sound business decision. Count me in. Whoops. I can watch on the Internet for free. As Marty Adler would say, "check that".

May 28, 2016 - 11:46 amWhat an innovative idea! Some

John Carter SAID...

What an innovative idea! Some racetracks have 150 to 200 cards of racing per year. Does he really believe people will pay $1000 admission per year to attend the races? Between excessive takeouts and admission charges he really is doing his best to ruin what's left of the race game. Great plan, keep the gamblers broke. He needs to find another line of work.

May 28, 2016 - 9:29 amAre you kidding me! Racing is

carlo renon SAID...

Are you kidding me! Racing is competing with casinos not 7th grade wrestling. The casino says come on in gives you $50 to start with and a free meal...and he wants to charge...good luck. Try making the racing competitive and exciting.

May 27, 2016 - 6:43 pmIt would be nice to charge

Bert mcwade SAID...

It would be nice to charge admission, but a major marketing principal is "Do not charge people to spend THEIR money."
Did you to have to pay more money than $7 to see the wrestling meet?
You want the race fans to bet their money, don't charge them to do so.

May 27, 2016 - 5:20 pmOH Really? After two decades

OH Really? After two decades of "Free Admission" and dwindling attendance and handle, how about we start "recharging admission"! That will for sure increase our handle and renew our fan base. Is this April 1??

May 27, 2016 - 4:45 pmLet's charge admission for

Steve Adams SAID...

Let's charge admission for people who don't come to the races now when it is free, or stay home because they can just bet on-line.

Kidding me.... right!

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