Being a passionate race fan, I am always thinking about how racing can bring out more of the “younger generation.” I don’t mean little children or teenagers. I’m talking about 20-year old’s and even 30-year old’s. Everyone asks the same question: How can this age group be brought into racing? As one of few people who are fans in the above age groups, I am confident that I can help the racing industry at least with a few ideas. Let’s take a look at seven of the ideas that I have.
1: Cheaper Foods and Drinks
Even though it isn’t what we want, my generation attends events not only to see the show but also because they have a lot of fun. A $5 drink does not attract people to a dying sport. A $6 burger is something that most people won’t buy. They won’t buy it if they don’t want to. Reduce food and beverage costs to increase attendance.
2: After Race Entertainment
Some tracks are doing a good job of bringing in bands to perform after-race activities. However, they should be more well-known bands and not just unknown bands. You will still have people who come to see the band, but you also have tickets that are discounted for those who come to the races. Cheap tickets are a must for this generation, particularly the college students who are often poor.
3: Constant Action
To keep our attention on the road, we need to take constant action. Portland Meadows has a five to ten minute downtime between the finish of a race, and the next field arriving at the paddock. The horses are not high-level claimers but it keeps the card moving, and people interested. The entire card takes approximately four to four-and-a-half hours. This is roughly the time that our attention spans last at events.
4: Giveaways and Prizes
People love to go to places that promise them their money back. People will even enter a contest for t-shirts because they believe that their money is helping them. The track should offer hats (or other merchandise) as giveaways. It should also advertise the track as often as possible. People will come to a track if they get more than watching horses race around it. Advertising is free if the track name is on the item. You’ll attract people if you give out stuff.
5: Meet the People Behind the Horses
Let the fans have a chance to meet trainers/jockeys/even horses (it doesn’t even have to be racehorses). Even if they are racehorse trainers, we all love to meet famous people. I’d be the first to meet Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert or any other local track legend. People will flock to your event if you bring in a celebrity from the area. People will flock to you to sign autographs of Derby winners.
6. Cut Costs
Tracks must reduce the costs of programs and other items that people need in order to bet, as well as the costs to enter the track. While I am aware that printing costs must be recouped, a $5 program to claim a card with many claimants is quite expensive when you consider the cost of a program to support the Breeders Cup races. The track makes $7 by offering admission, but if you have claimers and only one field of allowance horses, you won’t attract many people, particularly those who don’t care about racing.
7. Promote Events
Except for the Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup races, televised racing events don’t get promoted often. Even local events are rarely well-publicized. Even small tracks can advertise themselves by purchasing a spot on radio, a newspaper ad or sponsorship for a segment of the news. People won’t go if they don’t know. And, most often, no one knows anything about their local track unless they’re there every day.