Displaying items by tag: Saratoga Casino
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Casino Hotel reopened their doors to the public, Sept. 9, after being closed for nearly six months due to COVID-19 protocols.
The scheduled 2 p.m. opening was moved up one hour earlier to accommodate hundreds of people who queued up outside beneath entryway signs that read “Welcome Back!” and “We’ve Missed You.” The line of people continued atop the extended sidewalk and deep into the parking lot.
Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced casinos were permitted to reopen starting Sept. 9 with a 25% occupancy limit and strict enforcements of guidelines including face coverings, social distancing, and enhanced air filtration and cleaning protocols.
“We’re open,” Saratoga Casino Hotel General Manager Alex Tucker said simply, watching as people moved along the pattern of shoe prints painted atop the pavement with the spacing requirements of social distancing in mind. The large reopening day crowd was not a surprise.
“We had a feeling this was going to happen because of how long it’s been and there’s also been a lot of chatter on social media,” Tucker said. “This is the new normal. We’re asking people to be patient, and we’re really trying to do this as safely as we can and still ensure guests have a great experience.”
Over the past several months, Saratoga Casino Hotel developed a plan to implement physical modifications as well as policy and procedural changes to protect the health and safety of workers and attendees. That “Safe Bet Plan” includes heightened cleaning, sanitation and hygiene protocols, the use of MERV-13 air filters throughout the property, the Installation of several hand sanitation stations and other measures. All guests will be required to enter and exit through the south entrance, located near Crescent Avenue.
The 25% building occupancy enforcement equals 800 to 900-person capacity, Tucker said.
“We have driver license scanning for contact tracing – it’s an opt-in program. You can opt-in, or you don’t have to. Masks are required. Were going to take your temperature, social distancing inside the building, six feet in between the machines in every direction.”
The property first began hosting harness races in 1941. The season was extended in 1978 to include winter racing, and also began to host recreational events and music festivals to make ends meet, when the introduction of off-track betting plunged the sport into decline.
In early 2004, video lottery terminals arrived, contributing to the annual purses of the harness track. The machines have been credited by some with saving the local harness racing industry. A 2007 expansion brought with it the on-premises Vapor nightclub and in 2016 a $40 Million project developed a 117-room hotel with an indoor resort, steakhouse and other amenities.
Hours will be limited to 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The four-hour shutdown will allow time for proper disinfecting and sanitation, the company says.
The Hotel, Morton’s The Steakhouse and the Jackpot Deli with simulcasting are all currently open. Casino amenities such as cocktail service, Mane Bar, Garden Buffet and Vapor remain closed. Their reopening will be reevaluated as restrictions are lifted.
Earlier this summer, the city of Saratoga Springs received $1.86 million in funding from the state for hosting a center with the video gambling terminals in the community.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Jill Perkins knows the odds are not exactly in her favor, but as long as there’s a chance she’s all-in for a potential win. Regardless, there was a fun time to be had.
“it was a blast,” said the local resident, who attended Wheel of Fortune’s Wheelmobile event, which was staged at Saratoga Casino Hotel Saturday and Sunday.
The popular TV show, which first broadcast in the 1970’s, is co-hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, pits contestants against one another with a goal of winning cash and prizes - determined by spinning a carnival wheel – and by solving word puzzles.
“I’m a ‘Wheel’ watcher. I’ve liked ‘Wheel of Fortune’ since I was young, and for about 25 years now,” Perkins said. “It was my grandmother’s favorite show and I like mental skill games. My grandmother helped to make me a fan. I think she liked it because she had a crush on Pat Sajak.”
Several times a year, show representatives dispatch the Wheelmobile - the show’s 36-foot Winnebago promotional vehicle - to destinations across the country in search of future contestants who they say, are good game players as well as being energetic, enthusiastic and fun.
“The event was open to fans from 12 to 4. I had a feeling the line would be long, so we got there about 10:30,” Perkins said. “It was a full house. People were in Vapor (lounge) upstairs and downstairs, and it was a great production. They have traveling hosts who are very animated and there was a lot of audience engagement. There was a mock game that was a lot of fun, with people getting up there and doing very funny things. The host basically told the crowd: this is your time to shine, so we had people dancing and singing and playing air guitar.”
Since its inception in 1999, the Wheelmobile has logged over 375,000 miles and visited more than 300 cities. The majority of contestants who appear on “Wheel of Fortune” come out to Wheelmobile events in their hometowns. Last year, of the more than 1 million people applicants, 600 were selected.
“They’re doing this all over the country, so you go and hope you get called to eventually be on the show,” Perkins said.
Event attendees at Saratoga Casino filled out applications. Perkins said her understanding is that those applications are taken back to the show’s main headquarters, and potential contestants are chosen from among the applicants to go through a round of auditions. “It’s definitely a three-to-four step procedure,” she said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Super Bowl champions and World Series victors, Triple Crown winners and local kids got together at Saratoga Casino Hotel on a sun-filled Saturday afternoon to play some ball and raise some money to help keep sick children together with their families and near the care and resources they need.
“Hey Ozzie. Move around a little bit out there,” first base coach Craig Nettles – a six-time Major League Baseball All-Star – advised Ozzie Smith, a 15-time All-Star himself. Smith’s knack for impressive defensive plays earned him the nickname “The Wizard” and a reputation as one of the best shortstops to ever play the game.
Following Nettles’ instruction, Smith and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers stepped up their warm-up drills, which consisted of fielding practice grounders and subsequently launching them at first baseman Lawrence Taylor.
“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you,” Nettles compassionately warned journalists who had settled down into the shadow cast by the New York Football Giant legend known as “L.T.” Taylor’s method: waving his first-baseman’s mitt at the incoming missiles with his left hand while negotiating a stogie between his right hand and his mouth.
Sensing they’d perhaps taken his call to movement a bit too seriously, Nettles finally bellowed, “You guys are going to wear each other out.” Maybe he was right.
Wade Boggs led off the lineup for the “blue” team and promptly sent a spiraling home run over the fences. It didn’t end there.
A five-run “mercy rule” was instituted in the first inning. Another was instituted in inning two. The last anyone time anyone was keeping an accurate count in the brief softball game, the score was somewhere in the 10-3 neighborhood with the victor declared Team Otis – named after the game’s play-by-play announcer and two-time Giant’s Super Bowl champion Otis Anderson. But by that point, who was counting anyway? The day’s full slate of attendees – which also included ballplayers “Goose” Gossage and Dwight Gooden, horse racing world legends Angel Cordero, Ron Turcotte, and others – all had a good time.
The on-field event concluded with Major League slugger Jose Canseco participating in a home run derby, with every home run hit by Canseco earning a $100 donation by Saratoga Casino Hotel to The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
Following the well-attended celebrity softball game, athletes met with fans for autographs and photo opportunities, and local bands The Refrigerators and Skeeter Creek performed on an outdoor stage.
Overall, more than $10,000 was raised during the day and the irony was not lost on Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Carlson’s time at the venue pre-dates the installation of Video Lottery Terminals and goes back to the days when it was known as the Saratoga Equine Sports Center.
“I’ve been here for 40 years and it’s funny to think that when we had a celebrity harness race here, maybe in 1980, George Steinbrenner had won that race. So today, with all those Yankees playing, it’s kind of come full circle,” Carlson said.
“The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families who have kids in the hospital,” explained Jeffrey Yule, executive director for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region. We take care of those families’ needs - their housing, their food, whatever they need, free of charge.” Yule said costs are about $80 per night night to put up one family and that there are 25 families staying at a time.
“McDonald’s is a good partner for us. They account for about 25 percent of our funds and the rest comes from the public. This is an incredible gift to be donated, this much money, and it’s through events like these that we’re able to keep our doors open and our hearts open for these families.”
Jose Canseco swinging for the fences -
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A lineup of legendary athletes will take part in a day of music, food and sport at Saratoga Casino Saturday, Sept. 23.
A celebrity softball game will take place at noon on the field just off the casino’s Crescent Avenue entrance. Tickets are $10, kids 12 and under admitted free and a portion of the softball ticket sales benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
A VIP Brunch will take place at Vapor from 9 – 11 a.m. Tickets are $60 and on sale by calling 518-581-5775.
Live music - provided by Skeeter Creek, and the Refrigerators, and an autograph and memorabilia show will take place 1:30 – 5 p.m. Pricing varies by athlete.
Among those scheduled to appear: Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Ozzie Smith; Otis Anderson, Lawrence Taylor; Angel Cordero, Jean Cruguet, Ron Turcotte.
To purchase tickets and for more information about the events, go to: https://saratogacasino.com/event/star-sports-festival/.