BATAVIA – Batavia Downs Gaming on Friday unveiled extensive renovations that turned the grandstand ground floor into a colorful mecca for gambling and dining.
Parking was at a premium during the afternoon as the public got its first look at the upgraded operation.
According to an official with Western New York Off-Track Betting Corp., thousands of people entered the neon-splashed 100,000-square-foot area where 770 video lottery terminals blinked in rows flanked by three new restaurants.
Upscale Italian-style dining is available at Fortuna’s.
There is a football-shaped sports bar, named 34 Rush in honor of former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas, who signed autographs and proudly showed his Hall of Fame jacket, which will remain on display.
The Homestretch Grille, overlooking the horse track’s finish line, caters snacks to railbirds. Next to it is a Tim Hortons.
The $12 million project – which moved the so-called slot machines from the second to the first floor – halted gambling operations for four days.
At the noon reopening, officials got a look at murals, decorative floor tiles and an indoor waterfall.
It is the largest project at the site since WROTB renovated a failing racetrack 15 years ago. The slots were introduced in 2005, and their number has steadily increased to the point where they stretch the length of the ground floor.
Part of WROTB’s string of betting parlors and an intertrack wagering center nearby, the revamped race track has been a boon to the city and Genesee County as well as the local job market. A split of gambling income goes to the municipalities that house the track.
Harness racing continued throughout the week, although there was no on-track betting Tuesday and Wednesday. Bettors could follow the action and make bets at parlors throughout Western New York. Now betting windows near the paddock are open and await a future face-lift.