05/10/2013 2:31PM

Hollywood Park grandstand early target for developers

Benoit & Associates
Track president Jack Liebau says the dismantling of Hollywood Park will begin in January.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – It will not be long after the last race has been run in December and the horses have been shipped out of the stable area before the dismantling of Betfair Hollywood Park will begin next winter.

Hollywood Park announced Thursday that the 75-year-old track will run its final race meeting from Nov. 7 to Dec. 22. Track president Jack Liebau said in an interview that the demolition of the property will begin in January 2014.

As a racetrack, Hollywood Park will be reduced to memories.

“Everything is planned,” Liebau said. “It’s something we all knew was inevitable.

“The grandstand will be one of the first things to come down. They’ll be ready to break ground in 2014.”

The track’s property will be developed for residential and commercial purposes, with single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses as well as retail and office property. The retail development will include a 16-screen movie theater, Liebau said. In addition, 25 acres, including one 10-acre parcel, will be dedicated to green space for parks.

Liebau said planning is complete.

“All the entitlements are done,” he said.

There will be simulcast wagering on the property, but details have not been finalized, Liebau said.

The track has hosted year-round simulcasting since 1987. A casino adjacent to the racetrack has a race book on its ground floor, which is used on dark days for simulcasting.

During the recently concluded Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Hollywood Park had an average daily handle of $521,181, according to Liebau, providing vital revenue for purses on the circuit.

“I’m sure we’ll have some, but I don’t know how big it will be,” Liebau said of the simulcasting arrangement. “We realize the importance that Hollywood Park has as an offtrack facility, so we’ll do what we can to maintain that handle.”

As for the remainder of the year, Liebau said, “It will be business as usual.”

Liebau expects a boost in attendance at the fall meeting, with racing fans wanting a final day at a track that has been a fixture in Southern California racing for decades.

Liebau has experience in that capacity. He oversaw the closure of Bay Meadows in Northern California in 2008.

“We’ll operate as we have in the past,” he said. “The last few months at Bay Meadows were surprisingly good as far as attendance was concerned.”