The Australian Jockey Club yesterday unveiled plans to turn Randwick racecourse into a money-making, multi-purpose venue.
The plan features improved facilities for patrons and owners and a multi-storey hotel on Alison Road with an AJC-run licensed club underneath.
Randwick's concrete cancer-ridden QEII grandstand and the public's Paddock stand will be gutted to form an interconnecting, seven-tier grandstand. It will be bisected by a cantilevered platform, which will provide patrons and racehorse owners with views over the racetrack. The new ''theatre of the horse'' parade ring will be at the back of the stands.
The plan includes designated floors for owners with plenty of hospitality services.
Two giant pavilions will be connected to the refurbished grandstands. They will provide facilities for corporate players on major race days and attract events and functions on non-race days.
Double-storey stabling complexes will be built oncourse but trainers can remain in their old yards if they wish.
AJC vice-chairman and master plan driver, John Cornish, unveiled the vision with chairman Ron Finemore and chief executive Darren Pearce.
Cornish said the ''theatre of the horse'', which will be tiered to provide patrons with clear viewing, would have an ''alfresco dining'' terrace. He said the racehorse owner was racing's most ''critical feature'' and ''the least looked after person in our industry''.
The AJC was not in the accommodation business but several hotel companies would be keen to pay a management and rental fee and there had been ''substantial interest in leasing some buildings'', including commercial property space.
''Racing NSW would be a good tenant for us,'' Cornish said. He suggested Randwick would be a good home for Tabcorp and the NRL.
The plan is funded by a $150 million grant from the state government, which is dependent on the AJC merging with Sydney Turf Club. The STC is set to receive $24m from the government for improvements to Rosehill.
Cornish admitted facilities at Randwick were ''rotten'' and hadn't been maintained or modernised. Race-day attendances were dropping ''at an alarming rate'' and ''competition for the dollar is enormous''. The plan was not just about hosting 40 race meetings a year but turning Randwick into a year-round, income-making operation.
The AJC is working closely with the government to be given ''event consent'' status so it doesn't have to apply for approval for every time it wants to hold a concert, event or function.
Funding of $50m for the new centralised stabling precinct must be found. The double-storey barns housing up to 100 horses each will allow for 600 thoroughbreds to be trained at Randwick. Finemore didn't rule out offering trainers long-term leases or allowing them to buy them. ''We must come to a commercial agreement with the trainers,'' he said. (Credit: Fairfax Media)
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