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Just curious, those who have been around longer than I: Why exactly did horse racing stop at the Race Course? Why is it never brought up anymore as a viable attraction? Just curious because I seem to be coming up empty in my searches for info.
 

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It was actually mentioned recently. The owner of the course said that if the legislation were to get the "Bingo Bill" passed for Jefferson and Mobile Co., that he would bring horse racing back to Birmingham. It was more of just a verbal pledge I guess, but it was actually brought up recently.
 

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I was told by Birmingham friends that it simply did not attract enough patronage to remain in buiness -- and that was at least 10 years ago.

Virginia has one pari-mutuel horse racing track called Colonial Downs in New Kent (statistically, part of Greater Richmond). It draws quite well, but it also has about ten off-track betting parlors across the state (Richmond has two) that pull in the bucks. Did the Alabama Racing Commission allow off-track betting parlors? If not, that's probably the reason for the failure.

PS: Didn't they also try Greyhound racing there?

PSS: Does anybody besides myself remember when, if you wanted a nip, you had to buy small air-line-size bottles of booze at bars in B'ham? Couldn't just walk up and order one Martini. The bartender had to use the little bottles of gin and vermouth, and that usually allowed for two cocktails.
 

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I was told by Birmingham friends that it simply did not attract enough patronage to remain in buiness -- and that was at least 10 years ago.

Virginia has one pari-mutuel horse racing track called Colonial Downs in New Kent (statistically, part of Greater Richmond). It draws quite well, but it also has about ten off-track betting parlors across the state (Richmond has two) that pull in the bucks. Did the Alabama Racing Commission allow off-track betting parlors? If not, that's probably the reason for the failure.

PS: Didn't they also try Greyhound racing there?

PSS: Does anybody besides myself remember when, if you wanted a nip, you had to buy small air-line-size bottles of booze at bars in B'ham? Couldn't just walk up and order one Martini. The bartender had to use the little bottles of gin and vermouth, and that usually allowed for two cocktails.

I think you hint at the greater problem there. It didn't attract enough patrons because the race course has been far too hindered by laws and restrictions. It's not like maybe other places in other states where you can have all the gambling and alcohol and such. That's partly why it's a big deal trying to loosen these restrictions (for Birmingham and Mobile in particular) so that the race course has the potential to be all that it can. It's not struggling for patrons because of a lack of population or a lack of discretionary spending dollars... it's a matter of the course not having the flexibility to make it the type of entertainment attraction you can find in other states.

That's what's so sickening about this state. The good ole boys and others getting their kick-backs from Indian casinos that try to block anything to do with bingo, gambling, or anything like that. Too much corruption in this state that's hindered the progress in previous years. Fortunately, some of this seems to be changing and the whole economic outlook for Alabama is incredible.
 

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It doesn't help that horse racing is different model from, say, NASCAR, in that each track likes to stay open for a month or more. This means you get less circulation of the brand-name jockeys, breeders and horses. So tracks that don't have one of the bigger race events to lure fans are even more reliant on subsidiary gambling outlets, which the Bible-belt has been loathe to approve.

I did visit the Birmingham track once the year it opened. Thought it was a pretty fair venue. Folks in Atlanta were rather miffed when the B-ham Stakes opened, as many people here wanted to open a track as another draw for the convention industry. Couldn't muscle it past the puritans, though.

I used to visit Saratoga Springs (NY) regularly and loved spending days at the flats, win or lose. Would love to see the sport prospering again and to find another track in the south.

PSS: Does anybody besides myself remember when, if you wanted a nip, you had to buy small air-line-size bottles of booze at bars in B'ham? Couldn't just walk up and order one Martini. The bartender had to use the little bottles of gin and vermouth, and that usually allowed for two cocktails.
Used to be that way in SC, too. We would visit Hilton Head annually and the guy at the pool bar went through cases of those little things with all the frozen drinks he was making. Suffice to say he was thrilled when they changed the local laws.
 
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