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Batavia Downs

July 28, 2015 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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The first race of the 69th season at Batavia Downs turned into a coast-to-coast cruise by the #3 horse, Lima Playtime, with a career-best time of 2:00.4. Lima was driven by Rick Zeron and paid $4.20.

It should be both a fun and exciting racing season at the Downs, said Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer. There are special promotions throughout the season, but the remodoled gaming floor is also bringing in bigger crowds, which generates more revenue, which translates into bigger purses for harness racing. The bigger payouts will draw even higher quality horses to the track.

"Better horses make for better races and better wagering, and bigger pools means bigger winners," Hasenauer said.

The track is in great shape, Hasenauer said, which also helps draw drivers and trainers throughout the season.

"We already have a great reputation among trainers and owners as one of the best-manicured tracks in the industry," Hasenauer said.

Promotional highlights this season include Craft Beer Fridays, running into August, and Sunday wine tastings, and starting in August, Dollar Days, with dollar drafts and dollar hot dogs.

"People really like getting a good dollar hot dog or a cold draft beer at a decent price," Hasenauer said.

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July 27, 2015 - 1:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Press release from Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

As the Western New York harness racing scene switches back to the oldest lighted harness track in America today, Batavia Downs wasted no time welcoming back the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) to its schedule.

Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m. Opening night at Batavia Downs also features free programs and free magnetic schedules to all fans attending the races live (while supplies last).

The series makes the first of eight stops at the Genesee County oval with a group of lightly-raced state bred 2-year-old trotting fillies who will compete in four divisions, vying for purses totaling $109,500.

The first leg is led by Dolly Drama PV (Lucky Chucky-Massive Drama) from the Mark Harder stable. This filly has made two starts this year, finishing third and first respectively while banking $16,241. Last week at Buffalo Raceway, she left sharply to gain early position and then trotted home in a snappy 29.4 to win by two-lengths in a lifetime best 2:03.4. Dolly Drama PV is 5-2, leaves from post two and will be driven by local favorite Jeff Gregory.

The royally bred Pampered Winner (Credit Winner-Pampered Princess) ships in from the Meadowlands to make her first NYSS start for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. After qualifying three times at the iconic New Jersey track, she made her first lifetime start there in a juvenile overnight event where she finished five and one-half lengths off the pace in 1:59.3. Pampered Winner is the track handicapper’s selection at 2-1.

The second split features Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) who won the fastest (2:01.4) of four divisions at Buffalo last week for the top money-earning trainer in North America, Ron Burke. After getting away second, she went to the front past the quarter and then led the rest of the way for an easy one and one-half length victory. Jim Morrill Jr. picks up the lines for this week’s outing.

Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) made an unfortunate break at the start of her race last week that took her completely out of contention. That, after posting a win through disqualification at Monticello Raceway in an Excelsior A level race the week before. Steel Wheels, who is trained and driven by Gates Brunet, is coupled as a betting interest with Goosebump Hanover and they go postward as the morning line favorites at 2-1.

Royal Encore (RC Royalty-Spin The Planet) sat out last week after posting a solid second-place finish at Monticello on July 3. Now ready to make her second lifetime start, Royal Encore looks to improve for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. They leave from post four and are listed at 5-2.

Ron Burke’s Winning Princess (Credit Winner-Cabaret Princess) is the 2-1 early choice in the third division and looks to get back to her winning ways. She made a break at Buffalo last week that she couldn’t overcome after posting two convincing wins prior. In those starts she was victorious in 2:00.2 and 2:00.3 by a combined 10 lengths. Jim Morrill Jr. is back in the bike for the third consecutive time.

Winning Princess starts from post 2, and is coupled as a betting interest with Starlingmoon (Prayer I Am-Meadow Dion) who leaves from post 7 with Brett Miller aboard.  

Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Chip) looks to pose the greatest threat to the favorite after having scored a first and second place finish in NYSS action this year. Charlie Norris both trains and drives Posterity who leaves from post three as the 5-2 second choice.

In the final leg, Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious) is moving up from Excelsior A action after two solid wins over that group to take on the top level trotters here. Her 2:01.2 win at Buffalo last week was actually faster than the fastest NYSS leg which was won by Goosebump Hanover (2:01.4). She has proven to be a versatile performer; racing both on top and from off the pace, and her gate speed will suit her well this week as she leaves from post six.

George Ducharme, who won the 2013 Hambletonian with Royalty For Life, conditions Lindylicious and her regular driver Chris Lems is back up for the ride. They are rated as a 5-1 shot to win.

Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) is coming off a NYSS win in her first lifetime start at Buffalo last week. It was a convincing victory, but also the slowest of the quartet that day (2:05.1). Western New York’s leading driver, Kevin Cummings, will be aboard the 5-2 handicapper’s choice for the second time.

Love Crazy Love (Crazed-Love U Overandover) drew the rail for the second straight week and has one win in NYSS action this year for trainer-driver Gates Brunet. She is a solid competitor that is listed at 3-1 morning line.

There are also two divisions of Excelsior A action that offer $30,000 in purses and two divisions of Excelsior B horses that will go after their share of $13,500.

For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com . There you can get full race schedules, entries, results as well as watch all the race replays immediately after each race is declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com

July 25, 2015 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Milestones, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs are pleased to announce they have received two Romero trophies and two Honorable Mention plaques during the closing ceremonies of the Casino Marketing and Technology Conference in Las Vegas. This was the first time Batavia Downs had submitted any promotions to the conference to be judged.

Romero Awards honor excellence in gaming marketing and are named for gaming marketing pioneer John Romero, who passed away earlier this year. Awards are given in two size categories (above or below 1000 gaming positions) and 6 different marketing categories.  The winners are selected by a panel of expert judges.

Lindsay Matikosh, Batavia Downs’ Promotions Manager, was on hand to receive the trophies as they were awarded. The Diamond Trophy was Batavia's Diamond VIP promotion. Last Year's Collect and Win Promotion, "Construction Junction," received a Gold Trophy. Two online promotions: Facebook Friday and Promotions Bracket each received Honorable Mention plaques.

"These awards are to be celebrated by all our staff members," Matikosh said. "We like to say we have some of the best promotions among local gaming facilities, and to have an independent panel of experts tell us that they're actually some of the best in the world of gaming is great.”

“Front line staff in all departments helped remind our players about partaking in these promotions, and their popularity certainly contributed to winning these trophies,“ said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing at Batavia Downs. “It was a total team effort and we are excited to have the trophies and plaques on display near Player's Club for all to see.”

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 28 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

July 23, 2015 - 12:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Press release:

The 69th season of live racing at America’s oldest lighted harness track gets under way on Monday (July 27) with post time set for 6:35 p.m. That is the first of 70 live racing dates to be contested during the Batavia Downs summer-fall session that runs through Dec. 12.

The racing schedule begins with a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday rotation for the month of August and switches to a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday slate for the remainder of the meet.

For the first time in track history, there are eight matinee cards to be held during the year. Besides the five Sundays in August, afternoon starts are also set for Labor Day (Sept. 7), Columbus Day (Oct. 12) and Breeder’s Cup day (Oct. 31). And two twilight Tuesdays have been penciled in for Sept. 15 and 22.

Post time for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are 6:35 p.m. until Oct. 21 when it gets pushed up to 6:15 p.m. for the remainder of the meet. All matinees start at 1:15 p.m. and the two Tuesday cards start at 4:30 p.m.

Todd Haight, general manager/director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, is both busy and optimistic this week leading up to opening night as he handles many of the last minute details needed to make the meet successful.

“A new era of racing begins at Batavia Downs this year as we have inaugurated changes that will take racing here well into the future. Between the construction of the new trackside hotel, paddock changes, increased purses and our goal to present our live patrons with little down time between races with all our special events, the 2015 meet should be one to be remembered,” Haight said.

The changes Haight spoke about will be evident to both fan and horseman alike upon entering the Batavia campus, most noticeably the construction of a new four-story hotel at the top of the stretch that will overlook the track. Slated to open on New Year’s Eve, the property will be going up as the meet goes on.

In order to facilitate that project, the existing paddock alignment has changed. It is now a four-race enclosure with 16 new wash stalls just adjacent in Barn 1. Horsemen are advised to become familiar with the new paddock schedule, which is available on the Batavia Downs' Web site.

Purses have increased for many classes due to the increased handle on the gaming floor. To start the meet, the Open trot and pace will each go for $10,000.

Some of the best racing in the sport will be contested at the Genesee County oval this year, headed by a full complement of New York Sire Stake (NYSS) events.  The best juveniles from the Empire State will compete here on July 27, Aug. 2-5-9-22 -30 and Sept. 4 and 16.

Then on Saturday (Oct. 3), the Downs will host the second richest night of racing ever (behind the Breeders Crown in 1988) when the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace and four $50,000 NYSS consolation events will headline the program. Horsemen will be competing for purses totaling almost $300,000.

Race Secretary Joe Zambito has put together another solid condition sheet and is anxious to get the meet under way.

“It’s a very exciting time at Batavia Downs with so many positive changes taking place. Our defending driving champion and seventh highest percentage driver in North America, Kevin Cummings, is back to protect his title along with our other veterans including Jim McNeight,” Zambito said.

“Our young guns are led by 'Driving Drew' Monti, Shawn McDonough and Dave McNeight III. And this year we welcome Craig Gilmour, who is shipping in with a 25-horse stable.”

Fans attending the live races will also notice some changes along with one of the most aggressive promotion lineups available at any race track.

This year there is no quinella wager; superfecta minimums have gone from .10 to .20; and the track introduces their new “Early Bird Daily Double,” available only in the Paddock Room to patrons attending the races live. Bettors who wager a total of $10 or more on daily-double wagers will receive $10 in free play for the Batavia Downs' gaming floor.

Twenty-three of the 70 racing dates feature promotions and giveaways that offer something for everybody.

On opening night there will be free racing programs and magnetic racing schedules (while supplies last) and that will be followed by Dollar Friday’s ($1 hot dogs, soda and beer) all during August. But the most anticipated events come after that.

Aug. 23 is Family Fun Day and features the ever popular dachshund or “Wiener Dog” races. A daylong schedule of special events designed especially for children will start at 2 p.m. and run through the afternoon. The 80-dog field starts their heats after the last live harness race. All events are sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia.

Sept. 5 is a special driver bobble-head giveaway, sponsored by TAG Jewelers. More information on this (including the driver featured) will be released shortly.

Sept. 7 is the annual Labor Day matinee featuring the driver’s bike race, which got its start back in the 1970s. Eight of the Downs favorite reinsmen turn in their sulkies for 10-speeds to see who can peddle their way to victory. The eight bicycles used in the race will be randomly given away after the race to the fans who select the winning driver.

For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, logon to www.bataviadownsgaming.com. There you can get full race schedules, entries, results and you can watch all the race replays immediately after each race has been declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com.

July 22, 2015 - 11:06am
posted by Billie Owens in Wiener Dog Race, Batavia Downs, sports.

Press release:

Registration begins today (July 22) for one of the most popular promotions of the season at Batavia Downs Gaming -- the annual dachshund or “wiener dog” races, which will be held on Sunday, Aug. 23.

Sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia, a total of 10 heats will be contested with eight wiener dogs competing in each. The first race will begin after the last live harness race of the day, which will be approximately 4:20 p.m. The wiener dog races are the final feature of Family Fun Day at the races. The 2015 live harness racing season gets under way on Monday, July 27.

Last year, Kristy Drabek’s 2-year-old dachshund named Brinkley stormed down the stretch of America’s oldest lighted harness racetrack to win the championship final after competing for the first time ever. The official margin of victory was a half (dog) length. Six-year-old Pablo Penders, owned by Adrienne Penders, surged at the wire to nip 5-year-old early leader, Ruby, owned by Sarah Farley, for second.

The first 80 dogs entered will receive a canine gift bag courtesy of Genesee Feeds of Batavia. But the dogs won’t be the only winners here; their human counterparts are in line for a nice payoff as well. Each “puprietor” will be eligible to receive some nice prizes if their pet pooch proves prolific.

The owners of each heat winner (10 in all) will receive $25 in gaming free-play. And the winning, second and third place owner in the championship final will receive $100, $75 and $50 in gaming free-play respectively along with two complimentary clubhouse buffets each as well.

To register or for more information, all owners should call Arna Tygart at 585-343-3750, ext. 437, during regular business hours.

July 20, 2015 - 9:25am
Event Date and Time: 
August 14, 2015 -
5:00pm to 9:00pm

3rd Annual Former Employees & Doctors Reunion of St. Jerome's Hospital will be held on August 14th from 5pm-9pm at the Scared Heart Social Center. 17 Sumner Street, Batavia, NY 14020. The fee is $16 per person. Please make checks payable to Michael Rimmer, 15 Hart Street, Batavia, NY14020 or Theresa George, 38 Drake Street, Oakfield, NY 14125. For more information, call Mike Rimmer at 585-356-5922.

 

July 2, 2015 - 12:11pm

Horsemen and racing fans are reminded that post time for the Genesee County Fair races to be held at Batavia Downs on July 16 have been moved to 5 p.m. to avoid any construction issues of the new hotel that will be located on the Batavia Downs property adjacent to the racing paddock.

The entry box closes at 10 a.m. on Monday (July 13). To enter please call Racing Secretary Donna Kerr at 716-338-5387.

Anyone with questions should contact Director/GM of Live Racing Todd Haight at 585-343-3750, ext. 322.

June 27, 2015 - 11:03am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Batavia Downs Gaming is pleased to announce that Brittney Ohol will go to post as the new parade marshal for the upcoming summer-fall meet.

Ohol grew up around harness racing while being raised by her grandparents (Mike and Brenda Ohol) who both competed on the Western New York circuit for more than 30 years. The 21-year-old Lockport High School graduate attended Medaille College for vet tech before deciding to return to harness racing as a full-time career.

After getting her trainer’s and qualifying driver’s licenses, Ohol started her own stable and now owns and races three horses. Besides conventional competition, she has also been involved with racing under saddle (RUS) in New York State.

Ohol started to learn the art of outriding from Wendy Ross at Tioga Downs in 2011 and has now worked with her on and off for over four years. In 2014, Ohol took the position full time at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland. But after the meet ended there, she returned home because it was too far away from family.

When the job at Batavia Downs came available this year, the call went out to Brittney Ohol because she was a natural fit and the timing was right for her as well.

“I love having the opportunity to take this position at Batavia Downs. It’s close to my family and my home base where I know everybody so it makes it so much easier. I want to remain in the business as long as harness racing is around,” Ohol said. “I have two good horses named Paco and Cody and they allow me to do my job as well as I can. I am really looking forward to the upcoming meet to get started.”

“Brittney Ohol has a harness racing pedigree and has been a part of the racing community here at the Downs since she was a child,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.

“Her abilities as a horsewoman combined with her passion for the sport makes her the perfect fit for this job and ensures high-quality assistance to all the horsemen who race here every night. We are very happy to have her on board.”

The 69th season of live harness racing at America’s oldest lighted harness track begins on Monday, July 27 with a 6:35 p.m. post time.

June 27, 2015 - 10:56am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Press release:

Horsemen should be advised that stall applications for the 69th season of live harness racing at Batavia Downs Gaming are now available at the track’s Web site (http://www.bataviadownsgaming.com/live-racing/wp-content/uploads/2015/04...) or can be picked up in person at the second floor reception desk inside America’s oldest lighted harness track. All stall requests must be received by July 10.

For the convenience of western New York horsemen who are currently racing at Buffalo Raceway, these applications are also available at the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association office located on the backstretch of that track.

The 2015 Batavia Downs season features 70 race dates and includes eight matinee cards. The annual summer-fall meet commences on Monday, July 27 and concludes on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Live racing will be presented on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night basis except for Saturday Oct. 31 (Breeders Cup day) when racing will be conducted at 1:15 p.m.

Aside from that three-day rotation, five Sunday afternoon programs will be held beginning on Aug. 2 and continuing through the end of the month.

Monday racing includes opening night and holiday programs on Labor Day and Columbus Day.

Tuesday racing begins Sept. 15.

The season begins with evening post times of 6:35 p.m. and matinee post times of 1:15 p.m.

New this year, Tuesday post time moves to 4:30 p.m. while beginning on Oct. 21 all evening programs for the remainder of the season go off at 6:15 p.m., with an anticipated extra race each night being carded.

Stall applications can be mailed to the race office at 8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020, Attn: Joe Zambito or faxed to 585-343-2451.

The backstretch opens for tack on July 19. Horses may begin arriving in the barn area on July 21.

June 26, 2015 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

Dealing just with hard numbers -- setting aside speculation on hoped-for new revenue and "the multiplier effect" of jobs created -- the tax abatement plan approved Thursday by the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board for a new hotel at Batavia Downs should be profitable for taxpayers, according to data obtained by The Batavian from a GCEDC staffer.

The abatements will save developers about 11.5 percent on their $5.49 million investment, and the new taxes the project generates will be about a 100-percent return to taxpayers, if you accept the notion that the project doesn't get built at all without the tax incentives. If not, it's at least 42-percent return.

By law, the developer must certify that the project requires a tax break to be feasible, according to Rachael J. Tabelski, marketing and communications director. That is a requirement for all projects considered by the GCEDC.

"We have to trust the applicant that when they say this project won't be a viable project without the tax incentives," Tabelski said.

ADK Hospitality, the hotel's developer, will save $638,000 in taxes over the next 10 years, but it won't be getting off totally free. The hotel's owners, over the next 10 years, will pay $1.1 million in various taxes.

Tabelski was quick to point out that the $638,000 in tax breaks is not money taken from taxpayers. It's just money that isn't paid to the government; money that doesn't exist if the project isn't built. Thus, the $1.1 million in taxes ADK will pay over the next decade is all new revenue for schools, the county and the state (but not the Town of Batavia, which doesn't have its own tax on property).

That figure doesn't include sales tax generated by the hotel, or any anticipated increase in sales tax generated by the hoped-for increase in business at Batavia Downs. It also doesn't include employment taxes generated by the anticipated $600,000 in payroll for 25 full-time equivalent new hires at the hotel. 

The developers told the GCEDC Board that the project would generate a total of $2.8 million in tax revenue between now and 2025, but there isn't a breakdown available on what categories of taxes comprise that total. It likely covers fire district, property, bed tax, sales tax and payroll tax.

The $1.1 million in hard numbers we have includes:

  • $56,000 paid to the Town of Batavia Fire District;
  • $550,000 paid in county bed taxes;
  • $500,000 paid in property taxes over the life of the PILOT.

A PILOT is a tax break given to developers of projects that industrial development agencies, such as GCEDC, believe will create or retain jobs. It is a reduction in taxes on the increase in assessed value of a property.

Let's say a property is valued at $100,000. A business ads a new wing to its building and increases the assessed value to $150,000. The business continues to pay all property taxes on the initial $100,000 in assessed value, but gets a reduction in taxes on that additional $50,000. PILOT agreements vary, but typically, there would be no taxes due the first two years of the increase, and then taxes would be incrementally increased every two years until the 10th year, when the property owner is paying the full tax bill on the increase in assessed value.

In the case of the hotel property, the developers are buying land from Western OTB, which is currently tax-exempt and has no assessed value. It will be assessed next year, and its assessed value will go from zero to whatever that assessed value is, and the PILOT will be calculated based on that increase, unless the project is not yet completed, in which case there will be only a partial assessment with a full assessment to come during the next annual assessment period after the project's completion.

The PILOT on this project is worth $300,000. The remaining abatements are for the mortgage tax on the purchase and on the sales taxes due on material purchased during construction.

As for the multiplier effect, that's a controversial notion to some, but the idea is that if you create a new job and pay that person money, they will spend some amount of that money locally, and the churn of that money will help pay other people's wages, lifting everyone's boats. That $600,000 in new payroll could be worth millions in economic growth locally.

These figures also don't include wages paid to construction workers and purchases made from local vendors -- if any -- during construction.

June 25, 2015 - 5:38pm
posted by Traci Turner in GCEDC, Batavia Downs.

The Genesee Economic Development Center Board voted unanimously to approve ADK Hospitality’s application for approximately $638,000 in tax exemptions during a special meeting this afternoon.

ADK is planning to build an 84-room hotel connected to the Batavia Downs gaming facility. The investment is estimated at $5.49 million.

The board agreed with ADK Hospitality that the project falls under the tourism destination requirement with the general municipal law, which states the destination must bring in outside traffic.

In response to the Clarion Hotel’s opposition to the project, Steven Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO, stated that ADK’s project application was different from the Clarion’s project application submitted in 2012.

According to GCEDC records, the Clarion Hotel submitted an incentive application for window and stucco upgrades to their facility as well as debt refinance. Staff responded to the application and said the project may not meet law requirements to enhance the destination and attract more visitors. The Clarion Hotel then removed its application.

For ADK's project, Hyde stated many full-fledged casinos offer lodging and the hotel is a good opportunity to increase traffic at Batavia Downs.

“Today we’re looking at brand-new construction, a new feature integrated to the destination and a market study that confirms the projections will meet law requirements,” Hyde said.

Wolcott Hinchey, chairman, thinks the hotel will significantly contribute to continued growth and economic development in Genesee County.

“One of the things that I liked about this project is that we’re taking a tax-exempt property and selling it to a private developer and putting a property in the Town of Batavia back on the tax rolls,” Hinchey said. “I think the benefits of the project to the community outweigh the negatives.”

Michael Nolan, vice president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, is looking forward to starting hotel construction.

“The staff here has been wonderful with looking at every detail of the project and what it will mean to the community,” Nolan said. "We can’t thank them enough for all the professionalism that they displayed throughout the whole process. As soon as the legal work dealing with the closing of the property is complete, we will start construction at the Downs.”

In addition to ADK's project, the GCEDC approved an application submitted by Manning Squires Henning Co. for approximately $170,000 in tax exemptions to expand its facilities. The company plans to add 5,000 square feet and renovate its existing shop and office space. The project’s investment is approximately $1.3 million.

June 23, 2015 - 7:13pm
posted by Traci Turner in GCEDC, Batavia Downs, batavia, business.

An attorney representing the Clarion Hotel and members of the community voiced concerns regarding the application submitted by ADK Hospitality, LLC, to Genesee County Economic Development Center for incentives to build a hotel at Batavia Downs.

A public hearing was held Monday night by the GCEDC to gain input from the community on the application they received from ADK, a private developer seeking to build a hotel at Batavia Downs, requesting approximately $630,000 in incentives.

Vivek Thiagarajan, attorney representing Clarion owner Chat Patel, argued that when his client looked into applying for GCEDC incentives to build the Palm Island Indoor Waterpark in 2012 he was told the project would be denied funding because it was not considered a tourist destination. Thiagarajan argued that ADK's hotel is not a tourist destination and Batavia Downs should not receive tax incentives either. 

"There is no tourist destination about the hotel itself," Thiagarajan said. "Maybe the name makes it look like it's affiliated with Batavia Downs but the hotel is merely just like any other hotel. As a result, the public shouldn't be forced to fund something that only benefits the private owners of that hotel."

Thiagarajan also argued that the purchase price of $600,000 is less than the $630,000 in incentives the project would receive from the GCEDC.

In addition to Thiagarajan's opposition, John Sackett, a past county legislator, questioned whether the hotel would create full-time jobs and believed the hotel should be built without incentives.

A representative from the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters expressed concern over whether Batavia Downs and ADK would use union construction workers to build the hotel. The union agreed it would support the hotel project if union construction workers were used.

A variety of local businesses wrote letters in support of the proposal. The businesses included Sport of Kings Restaurant, Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, Sloat Tire Shop, Genesee Feeds, Nothnagle Realtors, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, WNY Harness Horsemen's Association and U.S. Foods. The businesses stated that Batavia Downs is a primary asset for attracting tourism and the addition of the hotel would bring more people and business to the community.

Anthony Baynes, managing member of ADK, provided details on the hotel project and the economic impact it would have on Genesee County. In the presentation, Baynes stated the $5.5-million hotel will be a four-story structure with 84 rooms. Itl will also be connected to Batavia Downs Gaming and complement the design elements of the new gaming entrance. There will be no restaurant or bar in the hotel.

"The hotel will positively impact Batavia Downs and local tourism on a permanent basis," Baynes said. "It will generate incremental gaming, banquet, food and beverage revenue at Batavia Downs, which will result in increases in tax collection, jobs preserved and additional jobs created."

According to Michael Nolan, vice president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, the corporation that owns Batavia Downs, the hotel will help the gaming industry expand and allow them to compete with other casinos that are building hotels.

The hotel will result in the creation of 23 jobs. There also will be more job growth due to the number of wedding and conventions Batavia Downs will host because of the hotel.

"We think our banquet facility is going to multiple 10 times due to the hotel," Nolan said. "It's well within reason that there will be 50 jobs coming with the addition of the hotel."

According to statistics provided by Hotel & Leisure Advisors, a national hospitality consultant firm, the total impact of the new gaming revenue, new food and beverage sale and increased banquet business will be $2.6 million for the first year of operation. In the first 10 years of operation, the impact will be $31 million.

The GCEDC Board of Directors is having a special public meeting to consider a final resolution for the project. The meeting will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre.

June 18, 2015 - 4:37pm

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) has scheduled public hearings on June 22 and June 23 for project applications submitted by ADK Hospitality, LLC, and Manning Squires Henning Co., Inc. The public hearings are required because both projects have applied for incentives totaling more than $100,000 from the GCEDC.

A public hearing for ADK Hospitality will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 22 at Batavia Town Hall. The company is proposing to build an 82-room hotel connected to Batavia Down’s gaming facility. ADK Hospitality is seeking an estimated $638,193 in sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment is approximately $5.49 million.

A public hearing for Manning Squires Hennig Co. will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, at Batavia Town Hall. The company is proposing to expand its corporate offices and maintenance facilities in the Town of Batavia by up to 5,000 square foot. Manning Squires Hennig Co. is seeking an estimated $170,556 in incentives.

June 8, 2015 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, horse racing.

Press release:

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) announced today that wagering at WROTB on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes totaled $1,168,559.  American Pharoah captured the first Triple Crown in 37 years. This was down just 6.2 percent from last year’s handle of $1,246,239 while nationwide; handle was down 10.5 percent versus last year. The 2014 race featured three more horses, which increased wagering. Batavia Bets.com, WROTB’s online wagering platform, had handle of over $110,000 for the day, up 28 percent from last year.

“It was great to see a Triple Crown winner. Those watching at Batavia Downs and our Branches were witness to a great horse fulfilling his destiny," said Batavia Downs and WROTB Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer. "I have no doubt that if this race had more horses, we would have beaten last year’s numbers.”

“Kudos to the connections of American Pharoah, they did a great job with the colt,” said GM of Live Racing and OTB Handicapper Todd Haight. “Hopefully we’ll get to see him race a few more times this year before he heads to the breeding shed to begin his next career. In any event, we can all look forward to seeing his offspring run.”   

TV viewing ratings topped a 12.3 rating with a 27 share. It was the first time in back to back years that the Belmont had higher than a 12 rating.​

May 29, 2015 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, 5K, festival of hope.

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Tonight was the Festival of Hope at Batavia Downs. Among the events, a 5K run and walk.

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May 15, 2015 - 12:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia, Western OTB.

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Officials at Western OTB think the odds of hitting a jackpot are better if their proposed hotel overlooks the Batavia Downs racetrack.

It is, after all, the oldest lighted harness racing track in America and the reason Batavia Downs exists in the first place.

Shoehorning it into the constrained space around the track, however, will require some bending of the rules.

There are zoning variances needed to lot size, lot frontage, front, side and rear setbacks and building height.

The scope of the variances prompted county planning staff to recommend disapproval of the project.

After Western OTB VP Mike Nolan pleaded with the board to support the project, saying it's the only viable option to ensure Batavia Downs continues to thrive and generate millions of dollars for the local economy, planning board members were unwilling to say no to the plan. They also didn't say yes.

The board took no action and the plan is now kicked back with no recommendation to Town of Batavia planners. It will be up to the town's Planning Board to decide whether to grant the variances.

Yes, Town of Batavia, not City of Batavia.

When the hotel plans were first announced, for the 80- to 100-room hotel, officials were talking about a location on the south end of the track, near Tops Plaza, but Nolan said further study on that location indicated it just wasn't viable. It's simply not big enough.

The current proposed location is on the north end of the track and would require the removal of some of the current paddock area.

It's critical, Nolan said, that the hotel be attached to the gaming facility and that it have suites with balconies overlooking the track.

A board member asked, why not in the parking lot on the west side of Park Road?

"It's important that horse racing stays strong and vibrant," Nolan said. "Over in the parking lot, it wouldn't have the same appeal as overlooking the oldest lighted harness racing track in America."

The target audience for the hotel aren't travelers passing through the area, but people willing to travel to Batavia specifically to place bets on races and drop coins in slots.

The desk for the hotel would, in fact, be in the gaming facility itself. (Some of us might call it a casino, but the state's compact with the Senecas prohibits Batavia Downs officials from calling it a casino).

The gaming environment in WNY is getting more competitive, Nolan said, and with the Senecas planning a new $400-million casino a short drive away, it's critical Batavia Downs up its wager on local gaming. Western OTB recently completed a $28-million upgrade to Batavia Downs and the hotel represents the next phase in making Batavia Downs more attractive to gambling dollars.

The land for the hotel would be sold to private investors who would own the hotel and operate it as a franchise of a national hotel company.

Nolan noted that when Western OTB took over Batavia Downs, since Western OTB is a public benefit corporation, it took $3 million in assessed value off the tax roles. The new hotel would be assessed at something in the neighborhood of $7 million, and while tax abatements used to help fund development would delay the full value of that tax levy being realized by some local governments, eventually it would generate substantial tax revenue for the county and school district.

Even if the private developers decided to eventually sell the property and Western OTB became the owner, the property would stay on the tax roll, Nolan said.

gcplanningboardmay142015-2.jpg

May 6, 2015 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports.

Press release:

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) announced that total wagering at WROTB on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby topped out at $1,930,585.30 with payouts of 2,067,622.80. Wagering handle was the second highest in WROTB’s history, and its payout to winning bettors was $800,000 more than last year and higher than it took in wagers, a first. 

“It’s the first time we’ve ever seen more payouts than money taken in," said WROTB Handicapper and Live Racing GM Todd Haight.

The complimentary Derby programs given out at WROTB Branches, EZ Bets and at Batavia Downs on Saturday touted Haight’s Hot Picks on the cover, which correctly selected the top four Derby finishers in exact order. The bettors of Western New York certainly benefitted as WROTB paid out $600,000 in winning Trifecta bets and over $630,000 in winning Superfecta wagers, both records.

Wagers placed at Batavia Downs Gaming totaled $62,248.50, an increase of nearly 5 percent over last year. Wagering using BataviaBets.com, WROTB’s online Web site, on the Derby was $53,821, a 26.6-percent increase over last year. Nationally the handle on the Kentucky Derby was up 4 percent and was its highest ever at $197 Million.

“It’s so exciting to see that interest in the Kentucky Derby is alive and well in Western New York," said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing of Batavia Downs and WROTB. “We’re all pulling for a Triple Crown contender in American Pharoah. All our Branches will be open at 10 a.m. on May 16th, the morning of the Preakness, and we’ll be having another party with live tellers at Batavia Downs. Our Trifecta special includes food, Free Play and a complimentary Preakness wager like we had for the Derby.”

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia. WROTB owns and operates 28 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standardbred racetrack and gaming facility.

May 6, 2015 - 3:25am
Event Date and Time: 
May 29, 2015 -
4:30pm to 9:30pm
There are actually two events:
  • 1. Genesee Cancer Assistance will hold its Annual​ Festival of Hope (Walk Against Cancer) at​ Batavia Downs, 8315​ Park Road, Batavia, NY on Friday,​ May 29, 2015​ 5:00PM-9:30PM.
The family-oriented event includes a Kid Zone, Music, Food, Raffles, Luminarias, and more!  Funds raised assist cancer patients and their families. Free Play is being given to all persons who participate in the event, just see Joe Gerace while the coupons last!
March 29, 2015 - 6:35pm
posted by James Burns in batavia, Batavia Downs, Train show.

The Genesee Society of Model Engineers held its biannual model railroad show at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia this weekend. There were about 100 vendors and railroad preservation societies exhibiting. Attendance was very strong. The Clarion parking lot was filled and cars were parked in the mall and the streets. Attendees came from all over the state as well as Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.

 

February 27, 2015 - 12:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business.

The city is ready, willing and able to help get construction started quickly on a new, five-story, 80- to 100-room hotel at Batavia Downs, said City Manager Jason Molino.

While developers and Western OTB officials have yet to agree on the precise location of the hotel, COO Mike Nolan said this morning the most likely spot is overlooking the southwest turn of the track, adjacent the grandstands, near the Tops Plaza.

That location is within the boundaries of the City of Batavia, meaning it will be the city's zoning and planning boards that will be called on for plan, design and environmental reviews.

"Being able to get this project reviewed and in front of all the proper boards is something we're committed to," Molino said. "We will make every effort, including holding special meetings, to move this along as swiftly and as smoothly as we can to meet the goals of the developers. I don't think this is a concern for us. We've worked with these size projects before and we can get it through smoothly."

Nolan said the developers, a Buffalo-based group that will purchase the property for the hotel from Western OTB, would like to break ground in 60 days and have the hotel open within nine months.

"The best part of this story is that back in 1998, when Western OTB bought Batavia Downs, it took $3 million (in assessed value) off the tax rolls," Nolan said. "Now, in 2015, $7 million plus is going back on the tax rolls for a facility that was closed and drawing nothing but cobwebs."

The increase in tax revenue won't hit local governments all at once, since the developers are likely to seek tax abatements from Genesee County Economic Development Center, but the exact structure of tax relief won't be clear until applications are made and abatements are approved.

Typically, tax abatements from GCEDC include relief on sales tax for construction material and furnishing, mortgage tax and a PILOT, which graduates the amount of property tax paid over a 10-year time frame, until the property owner is paying 100 percent of the taxes on the fully assessed value.

State law prohibits industrial development agencies from providing tax assistance to retail projects, unless they qualify as tourist destinations or are intended to attract visitors from outside the area.

Projects that are with economically distressed areas, or adjacent to such areas, are also exempt from the law.

Julie Pacatte, coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp., said one advantage Batavia Downs can realize by building the hotel on property within city limits (Batavia Downs straddles the City/Town line) is the census track is adjacent to a census track that includes Downtown Batavia, which qualifies as an economically distressed area.

"We're thrilled at the idea of having a distinctive hotel within the city," Pacatte said. "What they're planning, where you arrive in a very Vegas-style, shared lobby area, where you can check into the hotel and stay within the facility throughout your weekend, and being on the track, overlooking the last turn from a balcony, is pretty exciting."

Because the hotel won't offer other amenities, but is geared entirely toward the visitor looking for casino and harness racing entertainment, the folks at Western OTB don't believe it will compete with existing hotels, Nolan said.

"With this becoming a more competitive casino market in Upstate New York, we felt we needed to step up," Nolan said. "There's a casino coming to Seneca County, and the Seneca's already have casinos at their Niagara and Salamanca properties. In this new and up and coming casino market the way it is, we needed to offer some hospitality for our casino customers."

The other advantage the city offers a water-hungry facility like a hotel is lower water rates. Rates in the city are $3.14 per thousand gallons of water compared to $5.46 in the town.

The developers are negotiating with a couple of different hotel chains, so it's possible the new hotel will be operated under the banner of a Hilton Garden Inn or a Courtyard Marriott, or some other banner.

Batavia Downs is just wrapping up a $28 million remodeling and expansion effort and th hotel will complement that growth, Nolan said.

"We have a tremendous opportunity for convention-type of events and banquet-type of events that require lodging," Nolan said.

The hotel, Molino said, will certainly be a boost to the local economy, bringing in more visitors, creating jobs and spurring other types of economic growth. 

"This is a great opportunity and a great project," Molino said. "Everybody in my office, with the BDC and in planning are excited to work with the developers. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure it moves as quickly as it can and move as promptly as possible. That would be a win-win for everybody involved."

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