Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hialeah Park and Race Track

The Hialeah Park Race Track is one of the oldest recreational parks in South Florida. It was opened in 1921 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis and his partner James Bright.

 In 2001, Hialeah Park stopped hosting racing after a change in the state law kept it from having exclusive dates in its competition with Gulfstream Park and the Calder Race Track (two other Miami race tracks).  Consequently, owner at the time John Brunetti closed Hialeah Park to the public.
On March 2009, it was announced that track owner John Brunetti was awarded a racing permit after being stripped of permits in 2004 for not being able to hold races. Design firm EwingCole was selected to develop a master plan for renovation and further development, including a new casino. A $40–$90 Million restoration project was begun in mid-2009. Photos are from today June 8th, 2013, with much of the facilities restored, but still much work to do.
On May 7, 2009 the Florida legislature agreed to a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that allowed Hialeah Park to operate slot machines and run quarter mile races. The historic racetrack reopened on November 28, 2009 but only for quarter horse races. The park installed slot machines in January 2010 as part of a deal to allow for two calendar seasons of racing. The races ran until February 2, 2010. Only a portion of the park has been restored and an additional $30 million will be needed to complete this first phase of the project. The full transformation was expected to cost $1 billion since the plan included a complete redevelopment of the surrounding area including the construction of an entertainment complex to include a hotel, restaurants, casinos, stores and a theater. On June 2010 concerns were raised over the preservation of Hialeah Park's historical status as the planned development threatened to hurt Hialeah Park's status as a National Historic Landmark.
Above and Below: Betting Booths
Betting Booths

Currently the park is set to open to full racing December of this year (2013).

The whole time I was here I thought I was trespassing. The only people around were construction workers. I soon found out that they were simulcasting the Belmont Stakes today. I should have stayed to explore more. I will go back again soon and update. :-)