Batavia Downs eyes Oct. 15 for hotel grand opening
Saturday, Oct. 15 is looking more and more like the date for the grand opening of the Hotel at Batavia Downs on Park Road.
Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., today said that Downs officials and the Buffalo investors who own the hotel are gearing toward a grand opening ceremony on the 15th of next month.
"The fourth floor (of the 84-room hotel) is almost completed and we expect to be ready for booking" by the second week of October, Wojtaszek said, adding that the facility is a "step up" from most hotels and is run "by a top-notch staff."
The hotel has been painted a unique blue (Wojtaszek called it "Batavia Downs Hotel blue") and that color has been extended to the front of Batavia Downs Gaming. He added that the hotel's owners have the option to add another 42 rooms at some point in time.
WROTB has invested about $30 million into capital improvements in recent years, and continues to renovate the entrance area to the casino. Most recently, it added left-turn lanes into the parking lot for cars heading north on Park Road. Wojtaszek said the corporation is into the third year of paying back its long-term debt, which currently stands at around $20 million.
In other developments at today's WROTB Board of Directors meeting:
-- Directors approved putting an additional $20,000 into the Kane Memorial Race on Oct. 8, upping Batavia Downs' contribution from its usual $30,000 to $50,000. Wojtaszek said this is being done per an agreement with the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association in light of the Downs' delaying the construction of a new paddock area until next year.
-- Wojtaszek said the New York State Gaming Commission is close to approving Batavia Downs Gaming's contract with FanDuel, a fantasy sports company which agreed to a four-year contract with WROTB to provide this type of competition at Batavia Downs Gaming and at some of its OTB branches.
While acknowledging that sign-ups for the program have been "slow" to this point, Wojtaszek said it's too early to tell how successful the venture will be. The contract does provide WROTB a specific amount of "guaranteed" money, it was reported.
-- Marketing Manager Ryan Hasenauer reported that a former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas, a Batavia Downs Gaming spokesman, will be at the casino on Nov. 20 for a FanDuel event, and he also will be on hand on Oct. 9 for a "meet and greet."
On Nov. 5-6, an autograph show will feature former professional sports stars Ron Darling and Cecil Fielder (baseball), Grant Fuhr (hockey), Jo Jo White and Nate "Tiny" Archibald (basketball), and Bob Lilly, Joe Cribbs and Kordell Stewart (football).
In photos at top, the view of Batavia Downs Gaming with the new Hotel at Batavia Downs in the background; the revamped parking lanes which enable drivers to make left turns from Park Road into the facility's parking lot and a front view of the hotel. Photos by Mike Pettinella.