As the opening night of July 23 nears at America’s oldest lighted harness plant, Batavia Downs, several racetrack and facility improvements continue.

“To say it has been a hectic off season would be an understatement,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of live racing. “We currently have several projects going on and all are ahead of schedule.

“The first change our customers will see is a temporary entrance. Racing fans and gaming customers will both use the same North entrance. The new front lobby atrium is scheduled to be completed Nov. 1. Access to the historic clubhouse will be through the enclosed grandstand or from the elevator at the valet entrance.”

Purple Haze Winner’s Circle

Batavia Downs will have a brand new winner’s circle when the 68th season begins, thanks to a donation by Wanda Polisseni of the Purple Haze Stables.

The Purple Haze Winner’s Circle will be seven feet wider and be level with the racing surface.

“Material on the racetrack has built up over time and there was quite a dip from the racetrack to the winner’s circle, so much so we really haven’t been able to use the winner’s circle the last few years,” Haight said. “First and foremost the new winner’s circle will provide equine safety for all horses heading back to get their picture taken. Additionally, all patrons going out to get their picture taken won’t have to walk on the racetrack any longer, which was a problem, especially on nights the racetrack was sloppy.

“Thanks to Wanda, our winner’s circle issue has been solved. We are proud to call our winner’s circle, the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle.”

Open Grandstand

Renovation efforts continue to the open grandstand. Work completed so far includes a new section of painted seating and the entire grandstand is now completely paneled in.

Work has also begun on the once popular lower bowl seating area. Those seats, once filled on a nightly basis, haven’t been used since racing returned to Batavia Downs in 2002.

“The lower bowl seating project won’t be completed until November, which given our Western New York weather might be a bit late for this season, but for years to come our customers should find the lower bowl a preferred area to view the races,” Haight said.