The Victoria Racing Club has revealed its plan to consolidate the position of Flemington as the leading racecourse in Australia and set the scene for the continued growth of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
VRC Chairman Michael Burn said that the VRC Board had approved an impressive list of initiatives aimed at maintaining Flemington’s position at the pinnacle of thoroughbred racing in Australia.
“We have undertaken a full review of operations to determine the best way to fund a rollout of significant customer focused infrastructure upgrades in what is clearly a difficult economic climate,” Burn said.
“Improvements will be made to public facilities and a new Members’ grandstand built.
“Significant upgrades to the technology infrastructure over the next 12 months, including high density Wi-Fi and a new electronic payment system for patrons, will see Flemington become a global reference site for racecourse technology.”
The initial beneficiaries of the upgrade of Flemington’s infrastructure will be the race-going public, with the first phase of a multi-million dollar refurbishment of the public access Hill Stand already underway.
The Flemington Tabaret is also being refurbished, and will be reopened as the Headquarters Tavern in time for this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
This will provide additional year round entertainment facilities at Flemington for the public.
The entire Members’ Old Grandstand, following completion of extensive testing, is safe to reopen for this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival and Members can expect construction of a new grandstand to begin within the next few years.
“The current Members’ Old Grandstand is coming to the end of its useful life and, subject to the appropriate approvals, the Club aims to commence construction of a replacement stand after the 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival,” added Burn.
“An investment in the ongoing success of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the new grandstand presents an opportunity to increase VRC Membership and maximise returns to racing industry participants into the future.”
These improved facilities will provide a better experience for visitors to Flemington.
To position the Club to progress these initiatives, the VRC has conducted a rigorous review of its cost base and the way it conducts business, including procurement processes and working capital management, to deliver savings.
“We have worked hard throughout the budgeting process to maintain our position as the most rewarding Australian racing venue for owners, with almost $37 million prizemoney on offer at Flemington in the next racing season, representing an increase of $960,000 over last year,” Burn said.
“This has been achieved notwithstanding the diversion of almost $1 million of Club funded prizemoney top-ups to assist with financing the infrastructure initiatives, which will allow Flemington to continue to showcase the best in horse racing, world-class fashion, entertainment and hospitality.”
Prizemoney top-ups are the amounts contributed directly by the Club to prizemoney over and above the amount funded by industry distributions from wagering revenue.
Flemington is home to the world’s largest member-based race club and continues to balance the needs of the racing industry and the local community, as it has for more than 150 years.