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COMMENTARY:
Stretching the Home Stretch 
Carl Hilliard | horse owner | Crest Road

 

The question is what will be the impact on Del Mar given an additional five-week fall meet of horse racing, tentatively scheduled by the California Horse Racing Board to begin November 5, 2014?

Part of the answer you’ll like: A conservative estimate of the average daily attendance at a fall meet in Del Mar will be between 7,300 and 8,000. I estimate that the city can expect to receive approximately $225,000 in direct and indirect tax revenues from the five-week meet.

That should turn the tables on an average Del Mar slack November, when hotel occupancy drops from a summertime high of 81% to a wintertime low of 57%, resulting in a decrease of monthly TOT revenues totaling about $150,000. Sales tax revenues drop, too, of course – about 45%, which costs our city another $77,000 per month.

The proposed new meet should be even more lucrative for Del Mar the following year if Del Mar is selected to host the two-day Breeder’s Cup October 28 and 29, 2015. The event, which features 15 races worth $25.5 million in purses, draws an internationally diverse and rich contingent of visitors.

Daily attendance for the Breeder’s Cup should be equal to an average day at the Fair. Better than that, though, the majority of these visitors will stay and shop in the community and surrounding areas, adding something like $60 to $70 million to our regional economy.

One more potential benefit of additional horse racing could be a lack of space at the fairgrounds for crowd-drawing events, like a gun show that many in Del Mar and other communities object to.

So what could possibly be bad about any of that? Traffic. Expect more traffic from around 1 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays; ditto when the day at the track is over.

Camino del Mar has to be upgraded to handle the increasing traffic from all sources. We can expect that our streets will be heavily impacted on a daily basis by the new development of shopping centers to the east of us.

Solana Beach is ahead of us in looking to ease congestion. It has just completed an upgrade of the coast highway using Build America bonds secured by its share of Transnet taxes. We need to follow suit and take the steps necessary to implement traffic plans before we are totally overwhelmed by gridlock.

 

 

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